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1 . 1 The state of Afghanistan descends from a Pashtun tribal empire founded in 
Qandahar in 1747. The capital moved to Kabul in 1775. The state assumed its 
current boundaries under the rule of Amir Abdul Rahman Khan (1880-1901) and 
became an officially recognized buffer state under the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1905. 
Pursuant to that treaty Afghanistan exercised domestic sovereignty, but its foreign 
affairs were under the control of the British Government of India. The country gained 
full independence in 1919, under Amir Amanullah Khan (later King Amanullah). 

1.2 From 1747 until 1973 (with the exception of a few months in 1929), the 
country was ruled by royal dynasties drawn from Pashtun tribes from the Qandahar 
region. From 1826 to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1973, all rulers, with the 
exception of Habibullah Kalakani, were members of the Muhammadzai clan. 

1 .3 Though the rulers of Afghanistan were Pashtun, the country's population is 
highly diverse. It appears that no group constitutes a majority, though Pashtuns may 
be the largest. Pashtuns predominate in the southern and eastern parts of the country 
but are settled in pockets in every region. Tajiks, Sunni Muslims who speak a variety 
of Persian, predominate in the northeast and west, but are present in most urban areas 
as well. Uzbeks, along with other speakers of Turki languages, such as Turkmen, live 
in the far north and northwest. The Hazaras, the only major ethnic group that 
practices Shi 'a Islam, originate in the mountainous Central Highlands (Hazarajat) but 
are also present in large numbers in Kabul, Mazar-i Sharif, and other cities. There are 
many smaller ethnic groups, such as Baluch, Pashai, and Nuristanis. Families 
claiming descent from the Prophet Muhammad (sayyids or sadat) have a special status 
among all groups. 

1.4 Through 1978, the Afghan state was officially a Sunni Muslim one, 
recognizing the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. Under the constitution of 1964, this 
school of jurisprudence was recognized as a source of law in the absence of other 
provisions, and no law could contradict the "basic principles of the sacred religion of 
Islam." Religious scholars (ulama) predominated in the judiciary. The current 
constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan grants recognition to both the 
Hanafi Sunni school and to Shi' a schools followed in Afghanistan. 

1 .5 Since the reign of Amir Abdul Rahman Khan, the administration of 
Afghanistan has been de jure highly centralized, with all provincial governors, judges, 
and police appointed from Kabul in a prefectoral system. This weak centralized state 
co-existed with local societies that governed themselves largely by customary law. 
During the war and destruction since 1978, this de jure centralized structure survived 
and was reaffirmed in the constitution of 2004. This de jure centralization coexists 
with the decentralized, non- institutionalized exercise of de facto power in many areas. 

1 .6 The last king of Afghanistan, Muhammad Zahir Shah, who enjoys the title of 
the Father of the Nation under the constitution of 2004, reigned from 1933, when his 
father, Nadir Shah, was assassinated, to 1973. From 1963 to 1973, Zahir Shah 
reigned as a constitutional monarch with a parliament elected according to the 
constitution of 1964. This period became known as "New Democracy" or the 

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"Decade of Democracy." In 1973, Zahir Shah's cousin, Prince Muhammad Daud 
Khan, overthrew him in a military coup and abolished this system. Daud Khan, who 
had been prime minister from 1953 to 1963, established a republic with himself as 
president. He was in turn overthrown and killed in a military coup in April 1978. 

1 .7 This coup brought to power a government dominated by the People's 
Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA), a factionalized, pro-Soviet, leftist party. 
Like other political groups, including Islamist organizations, the PDPA had organized 
itself during the period of New Democracy. It was divided into two factions: 
Parcham, an ethnically mixed faction largely drawn from urban elites, and Khalq, a 
largely Pashtun faction recruiting from newly educated men of rural background. 

1.8 Afghanistan was one of three Muslim states (with Iraq and Turkey) that were 
members of the League of Nations, and it joined the United Nations in 1946, soon 
after its founding. Through most of the Cold War, until April 1978, Afghanistan 
pursued a policy of nonalignment and received aid from both the Soviet and US-led 
blocs. Because Afghanistan made territorial claims against its US-allied neighbor 
Pakistan, its military was trained and equipped primarily by the USSR. Hence pro- 
Soviet officers in the military were better placed than others to seize power. There 
were numerous other political groups in the country, most of them tiny and without 
national organization. These included Islamist groups, originally organized at Kabul 
University, who later formed part of the resistance to the PDPA-led regime and its 
Soviet backers. 

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2. 1 Afghanistan has not been at peace for over a quarter-century. The December 
2001 Bonn Agreement provided a rough road map to the rebuilding of institutions of 
government, but the brief transitional process outlined in that Agreement can at best 
mark the beginning of recovery from decades of destruction. The legacy of the past is 
visible today in the physical ruin of the country: its shell-cratered cities, mined fields, 
and burned orchards, vineyards, and villages. It is apparent in the physical and 
psychological scars borne by the Afghans, a people who have endured a brutal 
revolution from above, foreign occupation, and relentless civil war fuelled by foreign 
interference. No document can fully describe what the Afghans have lived through. 
Every Afghan has a story to tell, or many stories, of suffering and loss, and also of 
those responsible: the armies, militias, commanders, and gunmen — some Afghan, 
some foreign — who fought each other for ideals, political power, money, and revenge. 
Some victims became perpetrators, and some perpetrators became victims in a cycle 
of violence that has slowed but not yet ended. 

2.2 This report is a compilation of some of the existing documentation by UN 
agencies, international and Afghan human rights organizations, humanitarian 
organizations, journalists, scholars, and others on violations of human rights and 
humanitarian law committed by all parties to the Afghan conflicts between April 27, 
1978, and December 22, 2001. The sources consulted are mainly limited to those 
published in English and French. Important sources in the languages of Afghanistan 
and Russian have been mentioned but not studied in depth. This report hopes to 
establish a baseline for further documentation. 

2.3 The report describes the nature of the conflict through its various phases: the 
April 1978 coup d'etat that brought to power the pro-Soviet, factionalized People's 
Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA); the months of repression that followed and 
the uprising it sparked; the Soviet invasion and occupation; the conflict between the 
PDPA government and the resistance (the mujahidin) after the Soviet withdrawal; the 
collapse of the PDPA, renamed the Watan (Homeland) Party, that ushered in a new 
civil war among mujahidin parties and other militia forces; the emergence and reign 
of the Taliban; and the defeat of the Taliban in late 2001 by the US-led coalition and 
allied Afghan commanders. In each phase, the report outlines the pattern of human 
rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law committed by the 
parties to the conflict, Afghan and non-Afghan, as they have been documented or 
reported by the sources consulted for this report. 

2.4 Under the first government of the PDPA-led Democratic Republic of 
Afghanistan (DRA), dominated by the Khalq faction, human rights organizations and 
independent experts have documented the mass arrests, torture, and executions carried 
out by party activists and the government's security forces. Those targeted included 
leaders of social, political, or religious groups and others who were considered 
potential threats or who resisted the government's reforms. Thousands more were 
jailed without charge or trial. Former prisoners at the Pul-i Charkhi jail described 
severely crowded conditions, disease, scant food, torture, and regular summary 
executions of prisoners. 

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2.5 The imposition through violence of radical measures, in particular those that 
threatened the Islamic basis of the state's legitimacy, sparked local revolts and 
mutinies of major army garrisons. A mass flow of refugees began to arrive in 
Pakistan and Iran. When army garrisons mutinied, the government lost control of the 
provinces, and the resistance movement began to organize and supply itself in 
Pakistan. As rural revolts coalesced into a larger movement, refugees reported large- 
scale massacres of civilians in reprisal for alleged support to the resistance — the 

2.6 As the political and security situation deteriorated, the Soviet leadership — 
which had supported the government established by the PDPA coup but became 
alarmed at the expanding resistance movement — decided to intervene to end President 
Amin's rule. On December 27, 1979, a large-scale airlift brought thousands of Soviet 
commandos to Kabul, while tens of thousands of troops arrived overland. Amin was 
killed in the Darulaman Palace by a special KGB unit sent to capture or kill him. A 
new government dominated by Parcham and led by Babrak Karmal took power, 
though Khalqis retained important positions in the officer corps and the ministry of 
the interior. 

2.7 The new government, unlike the previous one, was largely under the control of 
the Soviet Union, whose troops soon approached the 100,000 mark, and which had 
advisers in every ministry. The KGB established a new Afghan organization, 
modeled on itself, combining domestic and international intelligence functions with 
those of a secret police and covert-action organization. The new organization was 
called Khidamat-i Ittila'at-i Dawlati . the State Information Services, known by its 
acronym, KhAD. Its founding leader was Dr. Najibullah. 

2.8 Although the Karmal government declared an amnesty and freed thousands of 
prisoners who had been held by the Amin regime at Pul-i Charkhi, it then embarked 
on its own pursuit of suspected opponents. According to human rights groups and 
UN reports, captured mujahidin combatants were generally executed on the spot. 
KhAD maintained and enforced control in the cities through arbitrary arrest, torture, 
imprisonment, and execution. According to human rights groups and former Afghan 
officials, tens of thousands of people were arrested in Kabul alone. There was no due 
process, and virtually everyone arrested was tortured. 

2.9 The Soviet invasion sparked a nationwide resistance movement. During the 
early 1980s, reports indicated that the USSR, with the help of its Afghan allies, 
pursued a counter-insurgency strategy that included punitive, indiscriminate bombing, 
cordon and search operations, massacres, and reprisal killings of civilians. According 
to available human rights reports, when the resistance attacked a military convoy, 
Soviet and Afghan forces often attacked the nearest village. If a region was a base 
area for the resistance, they reportedly bombed the villages repeatedly. Most of these 
bombings, reported by Western observers as well as Afghan refugees, disregarded the 
laws of war that require military action to be directed against military targets in a 
proportionate manner. 

2.10 The counter-insurgency and repression drove five to six million Afghans 
(about a third of the population) into exile as refugees, mostly in the neighboring 
countries of Pakistan and Iran. The Soviet forces and Afghan government reportedly 

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also laid and distributed various forms of antipersonnel mines throughout the country, 
sometimes by prohibited means that make the mapping and systematic removal of 
mines impossible. Refugees described deliberate efforts to destroy the rural economy 
by burning crops, fields, and villages, and slaughtering livestock. 

2. 10 The USSR withdrew its forces from Afghanistan under the 1988 Geneva 
Accords, negotiated through the good offices of UN Secretary-General Javier Perez 
de Cuellar through his personal representative, Diego Cordovez. These Accords 
consisted of four instruments signed by Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US, and the USSR. 
These agreements provided for the withdrawal of all Soviet forces, the end of external 
interference in Afghanistan, superpower guarantees, and the return of refugees. The 
US insisted that the obligations of the two guarantors were "symmetrical," and that it 
retained the right to aid the opposition as long as the USSR aided the government. 
The Soviet withdrawal was completed in February 1989, but aid to both sides 

2.11 After the Soviet withdrawal, the government, now known again as the 
Republic of Afghanistan, abandoned its ideology and undertook some reforms. 
Abuses continued, though not at the same level as during the Soviet intervention. The 
government had control over most urban areas. Government forces reportedly 
continued to bomb some rural areas, killing civilians, but the government increasingly 
relied on militia forces, some of them former mujahidin, to maintain control. 

2.12 According to available credible sources, throughout the 1980s, the US, 
Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and China armed and trained Afghan Sunni resistance groups, 
while Iran did likewise with Shi'a ones. The Pakistani intelligence agency, the Inter- 
Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) was reported to be the major foreign 
operational organization on the ground with the Afghan resistance. It was primarily 
responsible for delivering the weapons purchased from China and Egypt with funds 
reportedly provided by the US and Saudi Arabia and transported to Pakistan by the 
CIA. After 1985 the US reportedly also delivered aid "unilaterally" to certain 
commanders, such as Ahmad Shah Massoud, Abdul Haq, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and 
Amin Wardak. 

2.13 According to human rights sources quoted in the report, mujahidin forces 
committed various kinds of abuses. They executed Soviet prisoners — often in brutal 
ways. They executed captured Afghan military officers or others judged to be 
"communists" after trial for the Islamic crime of "apostasy." Some mujahidin groups 
and commanders engaged in assassinations and other forms of extra-judicial killing in 
Afghanistan and Pakistan to eliminate factional rivals or political opponents. 
Elements of the mujahidin began to rocket Kabul and other cities and engage in acts 
of terrorism, such as setting off car bombs. During offensives against government 
controlled areas, some mujahidin and their Arab allies from the group that came to be 
known as al-Qaida committed serious abuses, including summary executions of 
suspected "communists" and rape. 

2.14 Power shifts within the Soviet Union and its ultimate dissolution in December 
1991 paved the way for Moscow and Washington to agree to cease military aid to 
their respective clients as of January 1, 1992. While the UN urgently sought 
agreement from the Afghan parties on a political settlement, mujahidin and former 

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militia forces positioned themselves to fill the anticipated power vacuum. Under 
pressure from the UN, on March 18, 1992, President Najibullah announced his 
intention to resign, but he was blocked from leaving the country on April 16 by rebel 
Parchami forces at the airport, and he took refuge in the UN compound in Kabul. On 
April 25, forces of the newly formed "Northern Alliance" of non-Pashtun mujahidin 
and former regime militias from Northern Afghanistan entered Kabul and took control 
of the major government institutions, while other mujahidin and militia forces, largely 
composed of Pashtuns, took control of various neighborhoods. According to press 
reports and human rights groups, some of these armed groups summarily executed 
members of the former government. 

2.15 Over the next four years, Kabul was engulfed in a violent power struggle that 
left tens of thousands of civilians dead and destroyed large portions of the city. 
Human rights groups have documented atrocities committed by forces under the 
command of senior commanders from all of the major factions. These include 
indiscriminate and disproportionate bombardment of civilians — attacks that, 
according to humanitarian agencies, killed tens of thousands and drove hundreds of 
thousands more to seek refuge as displaced persons or as refugees in other countries. 
Hizb-i Islami, the Islamic party, led by Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, rocketed Kabul 
relentlessly for three years. Jamiat-i Islami/Shura-i Nazar (led by Burhanudin 
Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massoud), Junbish-i Milli (led by Abdul Rashid Dostum), 
Hizb-i Wahdat (led by Abdul Ali Mazari), and Ittihad-i Islami (led by Abd al-Rabb al- 
Rasul Sayyaf), launched indiscriminate artillery and mortar attacks and other 
bombardments of civilian targets. 

2.16 The main contenders for power were reported to have summarily executed 
captured combatants and civilians, often in particularly brutal ways, according to 
human rights groups. In some cases, these amounted to massacres of hundreds or 
thousands of detainees. Some faction leaders reportedly assassinated political 
opponents. All groups maintained detention centers where torture was reportedly 
widely used, and where some detainees were summarily executed. 

2.17 Human rights researchers have documented massacres of large numbers of 
civilians carried out on the orders of senior faction leaders. According to existing 
reports, some armed groups — notably Hizb-i Wahdat and Ittihad — took civilians 
hostage during episodes of fighting. Many of those detained disappeared. Individual 
commanders with all of the armed factions detained persons for the purpose of 

2.18 For the first time in the war, armed factions engaged in mass rape as a weapon 
of war. According to human rights reports, Ittihad-i Islami, Jamiat/Shura-i Nazar, 
Junbish, Hizb-i Wahdat, and Hizb-i Islami all used rape to punish civilians in 
neighborhoods under the control of rival armed factions. The victims of rape were 
targeted because of their ethnicity as well as gender. 

2.19 Outside Kabul, fighting was less intense, but the country became fragmented 
as each region and sub-region came under a different de facto authority. Civilians 
traveling by road were at the mercy of commanders who demanded tolls and often 
abducted and raped or abused them. 

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2.20 The Taliban emerged from this period of lawlessness. They were the product 
of the network of private, rural-based madrasas (religious schools) in the Pashtun 
areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan and the neighboring areas of Pakistan, 
which offered the only education available to a generation of Afghan refugee and 
rural boys. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were reported to have provided the military 
and financial resources to make the Taliban an effective military force. According to 
independent experts, by 2000 the Taliban's fighting force included an estimated eight 
to fifteen thousand non-Afghans. 

2.21 During their conquest of predominantly non-Pashtun areas of northern 
Afghanistan, Taliban forces engaged in a systematic pattern of violations of 
international humanitarian law, including massacres of civilians. They were 
particularly brutal toward ethnic Hazaras and other Shi'a, whom they considered to 
have deviated from Islam. The Taliban operated as a relatively centralized military 
force. A number of top commanders responsible for major operations moved around 
the country as front lines shifted. The names of these commanders recur in witness 
testimony about the violations. 

2.22 In areas they considered to be bases for resistance to them, Taliban forces 
undertook "scorched-earth" tactics, burning down homes, fields, and entire villages. 
These incidents have been documented by the UN and human rights organizations, 
and the results are still plainly visible, for instance, in the Shamali plain north of 
Kabul. The Taliban also systematically destroyed the means of livelihood of civilian 
populations in areas they wished to depopulate, apparently to prevent local residents 
from providing assistance to opposition forces. 

2.23 In areas under their administrative control, the Taliban imposed harsh 
restrictions aimed at controlling the civilian population. Many of these restrictions 
targeted women, prohibiting them from working outside the home except in limited 
circumstances and forbidding girls from attending school, at least above the primary 
level. The Taliban also prohibited women from appearing in public without their 
bodies and faces completely covered and ordered men to wear untrimmed beards and 
attend mosque. They reportedly enforced these restrictions with violence; Taliban 
police beat women and men on the streets for violating dress codes, detained women 
who appeared outside the home unaccompanied by a male relative or who appeared to 
be in the company of men who were not their relatives, arrested men with trimmed 
beards for re-education, and beat or whipped men not attending mosque. 

2.24 Throughout the period of the war, various armed groups implemented a harsh 
interpretation of shari'a law, including public execution of murderers, amputation of 
the hands of thieves, and the stoning to death of convicted adulterers. The Taliban's 
Islamic Emirate institutionalized such punishments as part of its system of rule. It 
also executed accused homosexuals by burying them alive under clay or brick walls 
that were pushed over. The Taliban authorities coerced young women or girls into 
forced marriages with Taliban soldiers. 

2.25 The post- 1992 period also saw wholesale destruction of Afghanistan's rich 
cultural heritage. During the rule of the mujahidin in Kabul, the famous Kabul 
museum was rocketed and looted. Priceless archeological treasures were trafficked 
abroad with the connivance of some officials. The Taliban, under the influence of 

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their extremist international allies, destroyed the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, 
internationally known symbols of the country's pre-Islamic past. They also destroyed 
other lesser known, precious sculptures from Afghanistan's Greco-Buddhist past, 
banned music, and persecuted contemporary artists. 

2.26 In response to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US, US forces provided 
arms and financial support to Northern Alliance commanders opposed to the Taliban 
as well as to independent commanders in southern and eastern Afghanistan. In its 
bombing campaign against the Taliban, the US used cluster munitions, which killed 
civilians, and occasionally struck civilian targets. Combatants captured by the US 
have been detained for prolonged periods without charges or access to any judicial 
procedure to examine their status. There are persistent reports of ill-treatment and 
torture of some of those detained. 

2.27 As areas of northern Afghanistan came under Northern Alliance control, some 
Northern Alliance forces attacked local Pashtuns, beating men, raping women, and 
abducting civilians for ransom, according to human rights groups. When Taliban 
forces in Kunduz were taken prisoner in November 2001, at least several hundred 
died while being transported in overcrowded container trucks. Some were reported to 
have been summarily executed. US forces are reported to have been present during 
some of these abuses and to have carried out abusive interrogations of some captured 
combatants or suspected combatants. 

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April 27, 1978 - December 27, 1979 / Sawr 7, 1357 - Jaddi, 6 1358 

3.1 In April 1978 a political crisis in Kabul led to a coup d'etat that set off the 
series of armed conflicts that continue in Afghanistan over twenty-six years later. The 
mysterious assassination of a Parchami leader, Mir Akbar Khyber, on April 17, 1978, 
led to massive demonstrations in Kabul, to which President Daud responded by 
ordering the arrest of the PDPA leaders. In response to these arrests, military officers 
affiliated with the PDPA launched a coup, captured the Arg (presidential palace), and 
killed Daud, his family, and several of his closest collaborators on April 27, 1978. A 
few days later these officers handed power over to the Revolutionary Council of the 
PDPA, which proclaimed the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA). The PDPA 
called this coup the "Sawr Revolution," after the Persian zodiacal month (Sawr is the 
sign of Taurus) in which it occurred. 1 

3.2 Nur Mohammad Taraki, general secretary of the PDPA, leader of the Khalq 
faction, became president of the Revolutionary Council and prime minister; Babrak 
Karmal, leader of the Parcham faction, and Hafizullah Amin, the other major Khalqi 
leader, became deputy prime ministers. Taraki appointed Parchami Lieutenant 
General Abdul Qadir as Minister of Defense and Parchami Nur Ahmad Nur as 
Minister of the Interior. A new secret police agency reporting directly to Taraki, 
known as AGSA, was headed by Khalqi and Taraki loyalist Asadullah Sarwari. 2 
According to human rights reports and scholarly studies cited below, prominent 
political leaders of previous governments were immediately arrested and some 
executed. Large numbers of Soviet advisers arrived and moved into government 
offices and educational institutions. 3 

3.3 Conflict soon broke out again between Parcham and Khalq. In July six leading 
Parchamis, including Babrak Karmal and his successor Najibullah, were sent abroad 
as ambassadors. In August a group of Parchami army officers were arrested for 
planning a coup, and Taraki and Amin purged Parcham from the administration. 4 

1 For a minute-by-minute, nearly contemporary account of the coup, see Louis Dupree, Red Flag Over 
the Hindu Kush. Pt. II: The Accidental Coup, or Taraki in Blunderland . American Universities Field 
Staff, Asia series, No. 23, (Hanover, New Hampshire: AUFS, 1980). For differing evaluations see 
Bhabani Sen Gupta, Afghanistan Politics. Economics and Society: Revolution. Resistance. Intervention 
(Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1986) 17-31; Henry Bradsher, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union 
(Durham, N.C.: Duke Press Policy Studies, 1983) 53-73; and Anthony Arnold, Afghanistan: The 
Soviet Invasion in Perspective (Stanford, Cal.: Hoover Institution, 1985) 67-73. Gilles Doronsorro, La 
revolution afghane: Pes communistes aux talibans (Paris: Karthala, 2000) and William Maley, The 
Afghanistan Wars (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) 25-3 1 present accounts using Soviet sources 
opened since that time. 

2 AGSA is an acronym in Pashto for Da Afghanistan Gato Satonki Idara — Administration for the 
Protection of the Interests of Afghanistan. After Amin assassinated Taraki in September 1979 and took 
full power, he renamed it KAM, Kargari Istikhbarati Muassisa — the Workers' Intelligence Agency. On 
personnel changes, see Anthony Arnold, Afghanistan's Two-Party Communism: Parcham and Khalq 
(Stanford, Cal.: Hoover Institution, 1983). 

3 Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 27-3 1 . 

4 Arnold, The Soviet Invasion in Perspective 74-75. 

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3.4 Khalq proceeded with a program of radical social change and mass repression. 
It launched quickly formulated reforms in land tenure, rural debt, and marriage and 
started a literacy program, even as the newly formed political police, AGSA, arrested 
and killed thousands. 5 President Taraki set the tone, announcing that "Those who plot 
against us in the dark will disappear in the dark." 6 The new government also changed 
school textbooks, removing Islamic instruction and replacing it with "political 
science," namely instruction in Soviet-style Marxist-Leninist lessons. 7 Reports spoke 
of young cadres who had suddenly come to power mocking Afghans who prayed, 
including elders. 8 The imposition of these measures, in particular those that seemed to 
strike at the Islamic basis of the state's legitimacy, helped spark local revolts and, 
more threateningly, set off mutinies of major army garrisons. 9 In Herat, where 
captains Ismail Khan and Alauddin Khan of the 17 th Division played leading roles in 
the revolt on 24 Hut 1357 (17 March 1979), the regime lost control of the city for an 
entire week, and it regained control only after a massive bombing campaign, 
reportedly carried out by the Soviet air force from bases in Central Asia. 10 

3.5 These developments caused concern in the Soviet Union, which had become 
increasingly committed to the Sawr Revolution. Brezhnev and Taraki signed a treaty 
of "friendship and cooperation" in Moscow in December 1978," but control over 
events eluded the Soviets. The Afghan regime's extreme radicalism and repression 
contributed to the growth of the resistance, which, along with the elimination of 
Parcham, alarmed Moscow. In a meeting of the Soviet Politburo on March 17, 1979, 
during the Herat uprising, Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin complained that "Amin and 
Taraki alike are concealing from us the true state of affairs" and "have continued to 
execute people who do not agree with them." 12 Yet the DRA's strongman, Hafizullah 
Amin, resisted Moscow's attempts to make him change his policies. 

5 On the "reforms" and mass arrests see M. Nazif Shahrani, "Introduction: Marxist 'Revolution' and 
Islamic Resistance in Afghanistan," in Revolutions and Rebellions in Afghanistan: Anthropological 
Perspectives , eds. M. Nazif Shahrani and Robert L. Canfield, Research Series, no. 57 (Berkeley: 
University of California Institute of International Studies, 1984) 3-56; Olivier Roy, Islam and 
Resistance in Afghanistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) 84-97; Barnett R. Rubin, 
The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International System (New 
Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, first edition 1995) 1 12-1 15; and Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 

6 Anthony Flyman, Afghanistan under Soviet Domination (London: St. Martin's Press, 1984) 108 citing 
Kabul Times . May 3, 1979. 

7 See testimonies by a number of students in Michael Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques," Temps 
Modernes 407 (June 1980): 171-234. 

8 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques," reproduced testimonies from Afghans who said that party 
members asked them if they were "doing sports" when they prayed. 

9 Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan 99, 108, 119. Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan 
118; Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 60-62. 

10 Ismail Khan served as governor of Herat province from the fall of the Taliban until September 2004 
and remains an influential figure in western Afghanistan. Alauddin Khan was assassinated, reportedly 
by a Taliban agent, on August 4, 1996. The fullest account of this uprising in French or English is in 
Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane . 

11 Bradsher 96-98. 

12 Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 31, citing James G. Hershberg (ed.), "New Evidence on the Soviet 
Intervention in Afghanistan," Cold War International History Bulletin (1996-97), 8-9: 138-139. 


3.6 The Soviet leadership together with Taraki sought to remove Amin in 
September 1979, but the plan failed. 13 Amin fled from a planned ambush and instead 
assassinated Taraki several days later. Amin asked Pakistan to relay to the United 
States a request to help him maintain his independence from Soviet pressure. 14 
Meanwhile, the taking of American hostages in Tehran had increased Soviet 
expectations of American intervention in the region. In a curious case of blowback, 
the Soviet leaders started to believe disinformation spread by the KGB about Amin's 
being a CIA agent. 15 Fearful of the collapse or defection of their Afghan clients, and 
of the ability of the United States to exploit either outcome, the Politburo decided on 
December 12, 1979, to intervene militarily in order to replace Hafizullah Amin's 
government with one dominated by Babrak Karmal's Parcham. 16 

3.7 On December 27, 1979, Amin was "eliminated" in an operation carried out by 
Department 8 of Directorate S of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB. The heads 
of these two units, Vladimir Krasovskii and Vadim V. Kirpichenko, flew to Kabul to 
supervise the operation, which was under the operational control of Krasovskii 's 
deputy, A. I. Lazarenko. The assault group succeeded in killing Amin and a number 
of his relatives. A bomb blast knocked out the Kabul telephone system, and at 8:45 
P.M., after the operation had been completed, a radio station in the USSR transmitting 
on the frequency of Radio Kabul broadcast a recording of Babrak Karmal announcing 
the overthrow of Amin and requesting Soviet assistance. 17 

3.8 The lack of formal bureaucratic or legal procedures makes it more difficult to 
attribute responsibilities for many of the killings and other abuses during this period. 
Some individuals named below had governmental responsibilities for various acts of 
repression, but the PDPA (after July 1978, the Khalq faction only) had a separate, 
though overlapping, party hierarchy, as in other Leninist states. Much of the 
repression in the countryside was carried out by teams of party activists who operated 
outside the framework of state authority. 

3.9 As noted above, immediately after the April 27, 1978, coup, Taraki appointed 
Parchami Lieutenant General Abdul Qadir as Minister of Defense and Parchami Nur 
Ahmad Nur as Minister of the Interior. A new secret police agency reporting directly 
to Taraki, known as AGSA, was headed by Khalqi and Taraki loyalist Asadullah 
Sarwari. Sarwari remained at his post until the failed attempt to assassinate Amin in 
September 1979. Abdul Qadir and Nur were removed in July 1978. Taraki kept the 
defense portfolio for himself and named General Muhammad Aslam Watanjar to 
Interior. Watanjar became Minister of Defense from March to July 1979 and was 
replaced at Interior by another Taraki loyalist, General Sher Jan Mazdooryar. 
Watanjar then became Minister of the Interior again. After Amin's coup in 

13 Arnold, The Soviet Invasion in Perspective 83; Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 32. 

14 Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 90. 

15 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA. Afghanistan, and Bin Laden: From the 
Soviet Invasion to September 10. 2001 (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004) 47. 

16 Gupta 83-84; Bradsher 126-88; Joseph J. Collins, The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: A Study of 
the Use of Force in Soviet Foreign Policy (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1985); Maley, The 
Afghanistan Wars 34; Hershberg 165-166. 

17 Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 34, citing Soviet sources. 

page 12 

September 1979, Watanjar, Mazdooryar, and Sarwari, along with the future Minister 
of the Interior, General Sayyid Muhammad Gulabzoy, fled to the Soviet embassy. 
Amin kept the defense portfolio for himself. He renamed AGSA as KAM (Workers 
Intelligence Agency) and appointed first Aziz Ahmad Akbari and then Dr. Asadullah 
Amin as its head. Faqir Muhammad Faqir became Minister of the Interior. 18 

A. Patterns of Human Rights Violations" 

3.10 From the establishment of the DRA until his death, Amin was the strongman 
of the regime, and its actions bore the imprint of his brutality and radicalism, 
reminiscent of the attempt by the Khmer Rouge to establish a new society by 
exterminating all representatives of the old one. 20 Dr. Sima Samar, chairman of the 
Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, summarizes the human rights 
practices of the regime very simply: "Any Khalqi could kill anybody." 21 Dr. 
Abdullah Osman, a medical doctor who now lives in the US and witnessed the events 
as a prisoner, was one of several who reported that he heard "with my own ears" the 
commander of Pul-i Charkhi prison, Sayyid Abdullah, say, "It is enough for a million 
people to remain alive in Afghanistan. We need a million Khalqis, and we don't need 
any others. Whoever they are, we will eliminate them." He told the detainees in Pul-i 
Charkhi, "You are here because you are the enemies of the regime. You are here to 
be interrogated, to rot, and to be eliminated." 22 The behavior of Sayyid Abdullah 
exemplifies the lack of even repressive legal regulation at that time. 

3.11 Since the Afghan state still maintained its presence throughout the country 
when the PDPA came to power, the government was able to arrest tens of thousands 
of people in both urban and rural areas. 23 Many disappeared with no trace to this day. 
These arrests were not initially intended to suppress rebellion, because the arrests 
preceded the rebellion. As the reports cited below show, the regime tried proactively 
to wipe out leaders of social, political, or religious groups that it identified as enemies. 
Its agents tortured captives not solely as an interrogation tactic, but to humiliate, 
punish, and annihilate them, and many were executed in a variety of ways. The 
murder and disappearance of tens of thousands of educated professionals in a country 
with such a low level of education and training left a vacuum that haunts the country 

18 On these personnel changes, see Arnold, Afghanistan's Two-Party Communism . 

19 Reports of human rights violations in this chapter are generally based on fewer sources than reports 
in subsequent chapters. At the time, human rights reporting was not as developed as it became later, 
and Afghanistan was a country of marginal concern to global politics. The country received much 
more attention after the Soviet intervention, and the extremely traumatic but relatively short period 
(twenty months) between the coup and the intervention has never received as much attention as the 
following periods. This chapter reflects those gaps in the existing sources of information, which, it is 
hoped, will be filled in by future investigations. 

20 The comparison to the Khmer Rouge was first made by Olivier Roy, L'afghanistan: Islam et 
modernite politique (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1985). 

21 Sima Samar, personal interview, 26 July, 2004, Geneva. 

22 The first quotation in Persian is, "Sirf yak miliun nafar kafist kih dar afghanistan zinda bashad. Ma 
az yak miliun Khalqi kar darim, wa digar az hich kas kar nadarim. Har kas kih bashad, az bayn 
mibarim." Barry "Repression et guerre sovietiques," 183. 

Roy, Islam and Resistance 96; Rubin, Fragmentation 137; Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 99-101. 


today, though each succeeding regime's persecutions also contributed further to the 
destruction of Afghanistan's educated class. 

3.12 The implementation of the reform decrees often sparked revolt, not only 
because of their content, but because they were imposed from above through violence. 
In his first report to the UN Human Rights Commission, the Special Rapporteur on 
Afghanistan, Professor Felix Ermacora of Austria, stated: 

"According to the information received by the Special Rapporteur, both the 
content and the method of application of these decrees created opposition. 
Several eyewitnesses described to the Special Rapporteur the manner in which 
the military authorities and, in certain cases, civilian governors had attempted 
to enforce the application of the reforms contained in the decrees described 
above. In the main, this applied to the rural areas. According to information 
received by the Special Rapporteur, resistance to these reforms was met with 
harsh reprisals, including the eventual disappearances of hostages taken, in the 
traditional custom, whenever measures of a certain drastic nature were to be 
applied. This, in turn, led to action against the government and to violence 
between civilians in the village areas and the military. During this period, it is 
reported, several party members and soldiers were killed and wounded." 24 

3.13 Under the "traditional custom" to which Professor Ermacora refers, the 
government would take hostages from influential families of an area where it intended 
to intervene. The hostages would be treated as honored guests, with the 
understanding that if the government met with resistance they would not be allowed to 
return. Harming such "guests" invariably created blood feuds and escalated a dispute 
into a revolt. Both sides therefore normally took care to avoid such a turn of events. 
When the Khalqis' policies met with resistance, however, they killed the hostages 
without returning the bodies or informing the families; hence they "disappeared," and 
the areas staged uprisings. 25 

3.14 When army garrisons called upon to suppress such uprisings mutinied, the 
government lost control of the provinces, and the resistance movement began to 
organize and supply itself in Pakistan, where it also received some "non-lethal" 
equipment (radios and medical supplies) from the United States, beginning in July 
1979. 26 As local rural revolts coalesced into a larger movement of jihad, refugees 
quoted below reported the first large-scale massacres of civilians in reprisal for 
alleged support of the mujahidin, a pattern that was to intensify in the subsequent 
period, as documented in the appropriate chapters. 

3.15 During this time thousands of political prisoners were incarcerated in Pul-i 
Charkhi prison, the largest prison in Asia. 27 President Daud had started its 
construction. The late British journalist Anthony Hyman described the prison: 

24 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 985/2 15) para. 68. 

25 Roy, Islam and Resistance 99-100; Rubin, Fragmentation 184-187. 

26 Coll. Ghost Wars 42-43. 

27 Maley. The Afghanistan Wars 17. 

page 14 

"Pul-i Charkhi is a great wheel composed of eight multi-storied blocks, with 
watchtowers and high walls cutting off the prison from the main road south to 
Jalalabad and the border, just a mile away. The prison was not completed in 
the spring of 1978, when the new regime's wave of arrests made it essential to 
use its ample accommodation for 5,000 prisoners, so as to relieve pressure on 
Kabul's old Deh Mazang prison. Intended as a modern-style, progressive 
prison by its designers, Pul-i Charkhi failed from the first to satisfy elementary 
rules of hygiene, quite apart from its other defects; floors were unfinished 
concrete, water pipes had not been connected, and there was no water closet, 
and all other necessary works were suspended after occupation." 28 

3.16 The tortures and executions in Pul-i Charkhi prison became part of the legends 
of this time, which form part of the Afghan national memory. 

B. Arrests, Political Persecution, and Summary Execution 

3.17 The coup itself was accompanied by summary executions. At least one coup 
participant, Major Daud Tarun, was reported to have summarily executed thirty Air 
Force officers who had surrendered to him. 29 Daud Khan, his brother Muhammad 
Nairn Khan, and most of their immediate family members were killed in the cabinet 
room after refusing to surrender, and the regime secretly buried them in a mass grave. 
Daud and Nairn attempted to fight but were armed only with pistols. 30 

3.18 Those arrested and killed over the next twenty months included other members 
of the royal family; political leaders and officials of previous governments; religious 
scholars and spiritual leaders; high school teachers and students; university professors 
and students, including leading scholars; lawyers and judges; government and 
diplomatic officials; military officers; Parchamis, Maoists, Social Democrats, and 
members of Islamic political organizations; Hazaras and Nuristanis (ethnic groups 
whose homelands have been the last incorporated into the Afghan state and who were 
among the first to revolt); and local dignitaries in many parts of the countryside. 31 The 
US ambassador, Adolph Dubs, was also murdered after being kidnapped by apparent 
Maoists on February 14, 1979. He died during a bungled rescue attempt undertaken 
in defiance of a US request for delay. Hafizullah Amin also denied US requests for an 
investigation, leading to the termination of US official assistance to the country. 32 

28 Hyman 109. 

29 Hyman 76. 

30 Hyman 76-77; Abdul Ghani Umarzai, Shabha-yi Kabul: Khatirat-i Yak Afsar-i Nizami. Jurianat-i 
Pusht-i Pardah Du Daha-yi Akhir-i Afghanistan. Asrar-i Kih Nikhostin Bar Ifsha Migardad [ Kabul 
Nights: Memories of an army officer. Behind the scene events of the last two decades in Afghanistan. 
The secrets that are revealed for the first time ] (Peshawar: Sabah Kitab Khana, 1995 [1374]) 48. 
Reference supplied by Ahmed Gholam. 

31 Amnesty International, The Disappeared (London: 1979) 64-65, lists categories of the population 
that were arrested in Kabul, as does Roy, Islam and Resistance 95-97. Roy also gives a partial list of 
religious figures arrested and killed in the provinces. Dupree Red Flag. Part VI 9 distinguishes six 
purges in Kabul, but, as he notes, "The arrests and executions never stopped." 

32 Arnold Afghanistan's Two-Party Communism 82-83. Arnold reports that Soviet advisers directed 
the Afghan police who bungled the operation. He also reports that the kidnappers were summarily 
executed after being captured. 


3.19 The day the PDPA took power, according to Amnesty International, all 
ministers, many officials of the last government, and members of the royal family 
were arrested. The royal family had been defined by the constitution of 1964 as the 
descendants in the male line of Nadir Shah and his four brothers. Zahir Shah and his 
immediate family were already largely in exile. The regime detained all other 
members of the royal family, and in a decree of June 12, 1978, it stripped twenty- 
three of them of their Afghan citizenship. 33 In October 1978, seventy-three women 
and children of the royal family were released from detention and allowed to 

3.20 The government told Amnesty International that three of the ministers were 
released, along with women and children of the royal family, but, as of September 
1979, "All other men remain[ed] imprisoned without trial. Approximately 50 of them 
[were] members of the royal family, the majority of this group are professionals and 
artists who have not held official positions, at least two of them over 75 years old." 34 
Among those killed was Muhammad Musa Shafiq, who served as the last prime 
minister under New Democracy in 1972-73 and was a graduate of both al-Azhar 
Islamic University in Cairo and Columbia University Law School in New York. 
Prime Minister Nur Ahmad Etemadi also disappeared. Among those detained and 
later released was Abdul Ahad Karzai, the father of President Hamid Karzai and 
former deputy chair of the Wolesi Jirga (lower house of parliament). Box 3.1 
provides a list of some of the more prominent figures arrested at that time, some of 
whom were summarily executed and some of whom were later released, most of them 
after the Soviet invasion and the assassination of Hafizullah Amin. 

Box 3.1 Prominent Afghan Officials Arrested Immediately After The PDPA Coup 


Nur Ahmad Etemadi, Prime Minister, 1967-1971. 
Muhammad Musa Shafiq, Prime Minister, 1972-1973. 
Wafiullah Samiyee, Minister of Justice, 1977-1978. 
Waheed Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1977-1978. 
Ghulam Haidar Rasuli, Minister of Defense, 1975-1978. 
Abdul Ali Wardak, Chief of Central Forces, Ministry of Defense. 
Muhammad Akbar, Chef de cabinet of President Daud. 
Salahuddin Ghazi, member of royal family. 
Sahib Jan, Commander of President Daud's bodyguard. 
Baz Muhammad Mangal, Counselor to President Daud. 
Muhammad Rahim Panjshiri, Counselor to Zahir Shah. 
Abdulillah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, 1978. 
Abdul Qadir Nuristani, Minister of the Interior, 1975-1978. 


Dr. Abdul Majid, Minister of State, 1977-1978. 

Abdul Tawab Asefi, Minister of Mines and Industries, 1975-1978. 

Dr. Abdul Qayoum Wardak, Minister of Education. 

33 E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 67(e). 

34 Amnesty International, Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the Democratic 
Republic of Afghanistan ASA 1 1/04/79 (London: 1979) 6-7. 

page 16 

Dr. Mohammad Majid Seraj, Minister of Public Health. 

Dr. Abdul Rahim Nawin, Minister of Information and Culture, 1973-1978. 

Dr. Abdullah Omar, Minister of Public Health. 

Dr. Abdul Ghafar Rawan Farhadi, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, ambassador to France; currently 

(2004) he is Afghanistan's Permanent Representative to the United Nations. 
Sabahuddin Kushkaki, Minister of Information and Culture, 1972-1973. 

Juma Muhammad Muhammadi, Minister of Water and Power, 1976-1978; became Minister of Mines and 
Industries in 2002 and died in an unexplained plane crash in the Arabian Sea off Karachi, February 

Dr. Abdullah Omar, Minister of Public Health, 1975-1978. 

Azizullah Wasifi, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, 1975-1978; currently head of the National Unity 

Party of Afghanistan. 
Dr. Ibrahim Seraj, Minister of Education, 1977-1978. 
Dr. Abdul Karim Atai, Minister of Communications, 1975-1978. 
Ayub Aziz, Governor of Qandahar. 
Ghausuddin Faiq, Minister of Public Works, 1973-1978. 

Abdul Hakim, Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation, 1969-1971, Governor of Kabul, 1977-1978. 
Dr. Walid Hoquqi, Minister of Law, December 1972-1973. 

Dr. Abdul Samad Hamid, Minister of Planning, 1967-1969, Deputy Prime Minister. 
Eng. Muhammad Kabir, Minister of Public Works, 1955-1963. 

Abdul Ahad Karzai, Deputy Chair of the Wolesi Jirga (lower hose of parliament); father of President 

Hamid Karzai, assassinated by presumed Taliban, 1999. 
Two sons of Ghulam Muhammad Sherzad, Minister of Mines and Commerce, 1957-1963. 
Abdul Qader Sulaiman, diplomat, member of royal family. 
Ali Shah Sulaiman, Army General (retired in 1950s), member of royal family. 

Ghulam Muhammad Sulaiman, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, 1956-1963, member of royal family. 
Sultan Aziz Zikria, Governor of Qandahar. 
Mahmud Farani, writer. 

Sources: Amnesty International, Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms ASA: 1 1/04/79 
(London: Amnesty Publication 1979); Louis Dupree, " Red Flag over the Hindu Kush. Part V: 
Repressions, or Security through Terror Purges I-IV ." American Universities Field Staff Reports (1980), 
Asia, no. 28; Abdul Ghafoor Wassil Wardak, personal communiation, July 5, 2005 

Note: This list is not exhaustive. Abdul Ghafoor Wassil Wardak, chief of Kabul gendarmerie under 
President Daud, estimates that several thousand people were killed in the first week after the coup, when 
he was also arrested. 


3.21 Those listed in the box are only the better known and most prominent of those 
swept up in the initial arrests and executions. The American scholar Louis Dupree, 
who was then living in Kabul, spoke of "thousands" being arrested at the time. 35 
These were added to political prisoners held by President Daud's and previous 
regimes. These included former Finance Minister Abdul Malek Abdul Rahimzai, who 
had been held without trial since 1957. He later died in prison. Islamists and leftists 
(other than Khalqis and Parchamis) arrested by Daud also remained in prison. Amin 
told Amnesty International in October 1978 that none would be tried or released 
except those "who were not against the revolution." 36 Many of these, including nearly 
all the Islamists, were later executed, as documented below. 37 

3.22 For the first few months of the "revolution," Khalq and Parcham shared 
power. Indeed, during the mass killings immediately after the coup, Parchamis 
controlled the ministries of both defense and interior, including control over the 
prisons. In the summer of 1978, however, Khalq and Parcham split again. The major 
Parchami leaders were sent abroad as ambassadors, but many more were arrested. In 
August the regime charged (rightly) that Parchamis and some of their sympathizers 
were planning a coup, which led to more arrests (including an estimated 800 military 
officers), torture, and executions. 38 Box 3.2 provides a partial list of those Parchami 
leaders arrested. 

Box 3.2: Members of Parchami faction and allies arrested by Taraki-Amin regime, 1978 

Lt.-Gen. Shahpoor Ahmadzai 

Dr. Mir Ali Akbar, Head of Jamhuriyyat Hospital 

Sultan Ali Kishtmand, former Minister of Planning, later Prime Minister 

Sulaiman Laeq, poet and author of DRA anthem, head of Radio-Television Afghanistan 

Nezamuddin Tahzib, Minister of Border Affairs 

Maj.-Gen. Abdul Qadir 

Lt.-Col. Muhammad Rafi, Minister of Public Works 

3.23 From mid- August through November, "a massive dragnet swept up many in 
the urban middle class suspected of harboring 'neutralist' ideas toward the regime." 35 
Many "confessed" to plotting against the revolution in collusion with various 
enemies. The methods of torture used to obtain confessions are described below. In 

35 Dupree, Red Flag. Part V 3. Dupree was arrested on November 25, 1978, during a purge of the 
universities. For an account of his arrest, interrogation, and expulsion from Afghanistan, including his 
observations of the torture of prisoners with electric shocks, beatings, and other measures, see Dupree, 
Red Flag. Part VI . 

36 Amnesty International, Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 6-7. 

37 The only Islamist prisoner not executed was Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf, whose later activities are 
described below. When all the Islamist prisoners were moved from the old Deh Mazang prison to Pul-i 
Charkhi, Hafizullah Amin personally intervened to make an exception for Sayyaf, who was related to 
his mother's family. Hence, when orders were given to execute all the Islamists in Pul-i Charkhi, 
Sayyaf was not among them. He was released in the amnesty after the Soviet invasion and escaped to 
Pakistan. (Roy, Islam et modernite politique .) 

38 Dupree, Red Flag. Part V 5. 

Dupree, Red Flag. Part V 5. 

page 18 

late 1978 a purge of the universities began, with mass arrests of faculty and students 
at Kabul University and the University of Nangarhar in Jalalabad. 40 

3.24 Numerous testimonies describe these mass arrests. To pick one example at 
random, here is what one woman from Herat told the Afghan Independent Human 
Rights Commission (AIHRC) in 2003: 

(a) "About thirteen days after the beginning of Hafizullah Amin's regime 
[presumably in September 1979], my brother, who was a student in Kabul 
University's Faculty of Literature and Journalism, was taken out of the class 
by a university teacher named Dilara Mihak. She handed over my brother, 
named Sayed Ahmed Zia, to her husband Ubaidullah Mihak, who was a 
commentator on German Radio [Radio Alman]. According to the eyewitness 
Ubaidullah Mihak put a black mask on my brother's face and took him to an 
unknown place. Since then we don't know anything about his whereabouts. 

(b) "Two days later my father who was a medical doctor was taken from 
our residence in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul [a relatively 
wealthy area where many embassies are located]. He was taken out by 
Amin's government intelligence services called AGSA." 41 

3.25 The father also disappeared. 

3.26 In early 1979 the regime began to focus on the religious establishment and 
religious opposition. It was already battling small revolts led by religious leaders in 
parts of the country. On January 18, 1979, the government arrested Muhammad 
Ibrahim Mujaddidi, known as Hazrat Sahib of Shor Bazaar, probably the single most 
prominent Muslim figure in Afghanistan, along with 138 members of his family. He 
headed the leading private madrasa in Afghanistan, in the Shor Bazaar neighborhood 
of Kabul. The vast Mujaddidi family, descended from a prominent Islamic scholar in 
seventeenth-century India, were the spiritual leaders of the Naqshbandi Sufi order in 
Afghanistan, Central Asia, and South Asia. They headed a network of madrasas all 
over Afghanistan and traditionally ratified the Islamic legitimacy of the rulers of 
Afghanistan. All ninety-six of the males were apparently executed the night of their 
arrest, while forty-two women and children were detained. 42 According to Dupree, 
over 200 other relatives and followers of the Mujaddidis were also arrested in Herat, 
Qandahar, Paghman, and Logar, the major centers of their religious influence. 43 Other 
religious figures killed included the Pir-i Naqshbandi (spiritual leader) of Purchaman, 
Farah, named Haji Bahauddin Jan, along with his two sons; the main Islamic teacher 
(mudarris) of Maymana, Mawlawi Alauddin, who was killed with a number of his 
students and several dozen high-school students; a dozen influential religious leaders 
from Lawlash, Faryab; two religious leaders in Ghalmin, Ghor; and at least two 
Mawlawis in Qandahar. 44 

40 Dupree, Red Flag. Part V 5. 

41 Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Herat Zone (Kabul: Transitional Justice Section. 

42 Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane . 

43 Dupree, Red Flag. Part VI 6 

44 Roy, Islam and Resistance 96. 


3.27 These are only a few of the more prominent people arrested during this time. 
But, as the reports cited below show, tens of thousands of unknown people were also 
caught up in the purges and persecutions throughout the country. 

3.28 In 1986, Special Rapporteur Felix Ermacora wrote: 

"A witness belonging to the government medical service in Herat informed the 
Special Rapporteur that, in the course of the construction of a military 
compound near the fish market, the bodies of 154 men had been discovered, 
chained in groups of seven. The witness stated that the stage of decomposition 
of the bodies indicated that the persons had been killed before the foreign 
intervention in December 1979. It may therefore be concluded that these 
persons were among those who disappeared between 1978 and 1979. 45 

3.29 In 1989, he again reported: 

"The question of disappeared persons has again been brought to the attention 
of the Special Rapporteur, including some specific cases which the Special 
Rapporteur has not been able to verify. The Special Rapporteur received in 
particular in the Naser Bagh camp [in Peshawar, Pakistan] a list of 30 persons 
who allegedly disappeared on 22 May 1979, during the Taraki-Amin 
government, in the sub-district of Shighal, district of Asmar, Kunar province. 
A list of the names of these persons is reproduced in annex I to the present 
report. The Special Rapporteur is of the view that an in-depth investigation of 
the reported disappearances would be warranted." 46 

3.30 The list of the disappeared given to Professor Ermacora is reproduced in Box 

45 United Nations Economic and Social Council. Commission on Human Rights. "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 986/24.) para. 47. 

46 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 989/24) para. 16. 


Box 3.3: List of Persons who Disappeared on 22 May 1979, Shighal, Kunar 

Wakil, s/o Muhammad Akbar 
Faghir, s/o Muhammad Akbar 
Darim Khan, s/o Mir Akbar 
Pardel Khal, s/o Muhammad Khan 
Ilm Khan, s/o Muhammad Khan 
Musa Khan, s/o Abdullah Khan 
Abdul Rahman, s/o Mu'min 
Rahmatullah Khan, s/o Abdullah 
Jan Muhammad, s/o Rahmatullah 
Rason Mullah 

Abdul Wali, s/o Abdul Ghana 
Hazratullah, s/o Abdul Ghana 
Hazrat Wali, s/o Abdul Wali 
Najmuddin, s/o Muhammad Mir 

Nimatullah Khan, s/o Nur Muhammad 

Gulab Shir, s/o Gul Wali 

Muhammad Zarin, s/o Muhammad Rahim 

Habibullah, s/o Amir Jamal 

Shabghadr, s/o Nimatullah Khan 

'Ayn Gul, s/o Hazratuddin 

Hazrat Muhammaduddin, s/o Tuti 

Nadir, s/o Ghazi 

Mujahid, s/o Sadbar 

Amir Sultan, s/o Islam Khan 

Tur Khan, s/o Mubariz Khan 

Muhammad Husain, s/o Tur Khan 

Nur Muhammad Khan, s/o Nur Rahim 

Khan, s/o Nur Rahim 

page 20 

Source: E/CN. 4/1989/24 para. 16. 

3.31 Today, as the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission's regional 
offices collect information about past human rights violations, people press upon them 
the memories of those who disappeared at that time. Witnesses in Herat stated that, 
after the anti-government uprising in Herat in March 1979, one official "arrested 
about 72 people and killed them and threw them in a lake." Another reportedly 
arrested at least four others who disappeared. Two other party officials named by the 
witness killed about 27 people. 47 Box 3.4 lists those victims whose names were given. 
They may be among the approximately 2,000 bodies found in a mass grave northeast 
of Herat in 1992. 48 The total number killed in the suppression of the Herat uprising is 
often estimated at 25,000, including the victims of bombing, reportedly by Soviet 
planes coming from Central Asia, but no systematic study has been done. 

Box 3.4: Some people who disappeared after the Herat uprising in March 1979 

Haji Abdul Ahad 

Haji Dad Muhammad 

Haji Aminullah 

Wakil Ahmad s/o Murtaza 

Haji Muhammad Jan s/o Mullah Barat 

Haji Hafizullah s/o Haji Nuruddin 

Haji Siddiq 

Nadiullah s/o Habibullah 

Amrullah s/o Abdullah 

Akbar Jan s/o Habib Khan Shikiba 

Zabihullah s/o Haji Nasruddin 

Gausuddin s/o Gulistan 

Haji Yar Muhammad s/o Sayyid Muhammad 

Abdul Hakim s/o Habibullah 

Arbab (village head) Aziz Shakiban Marwi 

Nuruddin Shakiban Marwi 

Muhammad Amin Shakiban Marwi 

Saduddin Shakiban Marwi 

Akbar Khan Shakiban Tajiki 

Abdul Shukur, teacher of the Shakiban 

Ghulam Sakhi 

Muhammad Hashim 

Haji Bismillah, brother of Muhammad Hashim 

Abdullah Naseh 

Abdul Majeed, shopkeeper 

Ghulam Ghaus, teacher 

Source: Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Herat Zone . 

3.32 Testimonies of former prisoners collected by Michael Barry and later 
translated and published in Jean-Paul Sartre's journal, Temps Modernes . make it clear 
what happened to the disappeared. Former prisoners told of frequent nightly 
executions in Pul-i Charkhi prison. Among many examples, Dr. Abdullah Osman 
recounted how approximately 120 Islamists who had been arrested by Daud for 
plotting an uprising were executed in one night, June 4, 1979, according to 

Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Herat Zone. 
Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane . 


Dorronsoro. 49 The prisoners attempted to stage an insurrection on the way to the 
execution ground and were reported to have resisted from 10 P.M. to 4 A.M.. All 
were eventually shot in Pul-i Charkhi, except for five or six wounded survivors, who, 
witnesses said, were beaten to death by an officer named Basir, who said he would not 
waste bullets on such dogs. 50 This may have been an incident that supposedly 
occurred during the night of May 31-June 1, 1979, reported to Professor Ermacora by 
Azizullah Ludin, a former prisoner who today is the head of the anti-corruption unit in 
the office of the president of Afghanistan: 

"Shots fired in the prison courtyard had been heard by the witness, who was 
told by the prison guards that about 118 prisoners were being executed. The 
shooting was followed by the departure of buses carrying the bodies, some of 
them still showing signs of life." 51 

3.33 This was not a very unusual night. Professor Ermacora continued: 

"The testimony of a former female detainee of Poli Charki likewise revealed 
that during her detention between May and November 1978 she had several 
times heard shooting in the prison courtyard along with the departure of the 
corpses of prisoners in buses [note the plural]." 52 

3.34 Officials would appear many nights in Pul-i Charkhi prison with lists of 
people to be executed. The victims would be taken from their cells and never seen 
again. During the first week after the murder of Taraki by Amin, the jailers hurried to 
kill as many people as possible in order to pin the responsibility on Taraki. 53 

3.35 The prisoners were bound and taken to the execution ground. Those in Pul-i 
Charkhi were taken to the Polygon Field, a military parade ground about 1,500 meters 
from the prison. They were thrown in ditches and machine-gunned. Then bulldozers 
filled the mass graves with earth, covering the dead and the dying alike. 54 

3.36 Various former prisoners described the execution ground, but the most graphic 
description comes from the peasants of Deh Sabz, a village next to the Polygon, 
interviewed by Michael Barry in Pakistan in March 1980. The villagers were able to 
observe activities in the field from an upaved path running parallel to but above the 
paved road leading to the Polygon, which ran by their village. Khwaja Sa'id Rahmat, 

49 Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane . 

50 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques,"184-185. 

51 E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 74. Azizullah Ludin confirmed (interview Kabul, July 5, 2004) that he was the 
"Mr. Ludin" interviewed by Professor Ermacora. He said that he, Professor Sayid Abdullah Kazim 
(former Dean of the Faculty of Economics at Kabul University), Dr. Abdullah Osman, Muhammad 
Amin Farhang (minister of reconstruction, 2001-2004), and some others were trying to organize a coup 
against the PDPA government, when they were betrayed by a military officer whom they had 
contacted. Ludin was a delegate of the Cyprus Group to the UN Talks on Afghanistan that approved 
the Bonn Agreement in November-December 2001. 

52 E/CN.4/1 985/21 para 74. 

53 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 190. 

54 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 194. Testimony of a university professor. 

page 22 

a 60-year-old villager, stated that in the immediate aftermath of the 1978 coup many 
of the soliders killed were buried in Polygon Field. Subsequently, during nightly 
executions, prisoners were transported to Polygon tied together in trucks, machine- 
gunned over ditches that became mass graves, and buried by bulldozers. According to 
the witness: 

(a) "All the good officers who were Muslims, the mullahs, they picked 
them up and threw them in Pul-i Charkhi prison. And then at night they 
blindfolded them, at 1 1 o'clock at night. And every night, two trucks, three 
trucks arrived, completely full. Let the UN come and see! Let the UN come 
and verify it! They will see the dead piled up on each other. It was the time of 
Taraki. Hafizullah Amin was giving the orders. They dug the ditches. Then 
they threw them in there while firing on them with machine guns. . . . 

(b) "Starting at 1 1 o'clock, they slaughtered them, then they buried them 
in the earth. Let the UN come and see, if they are just, let them come see! 
They came by the road of Tarakhel, from Bala Hissar! Just by the village of 
Deh Sabz, you will see, it is full, full of the dead. With the eyes of my own 
head, I saw them buried alive! For the sake of God! . . . 

(c) "They covered them with earth, but the feet would stick out. We saw 
legs in [European-style] pants, we saw legs in kala [Afghan baggy trousers], 
soldiers' boots. They tore off the boots of these Muslims. The trucks arrived, 
full, just like the trucks that carry wood to the factory in Jangalak." 55 

3.37 According to former prisoners, prison commander Sayyid Abdullah also 
ordered prisoners buried alive or drowned in the excrement of the prison's open 
cesspools. A professor who had been imprisoned in Pul-i Charkhi told Michael 

"Someone's cell was searched, and they found a ballpoint pen. That was the 
most dangerous weapon there. The prisoner was brought before the line of 
inmates. The commander [Sayyid Abdullah] told them: 'He has done 
something very serious. He has had a pen reach him inside the prison. We are 
going to teach you a lesson. If any one of you does the same thing, he will be 
punished the same way. ' The prisoner was thrown into the pool of filth 
[excrement — the professor had drawn a map showing the location of the 
cesspool]. He tried to get out, but it was soft, he sank, the soldiers around 
pushed him with sticks, and drowned him." 56 

3.38 The witness said he had seen three such burials alive himself and heard of 
others from other prisoners. 

3.39 A witness described Sayyid Abdullah as follows: 

55 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 202-205. 

56 Michael Barry, "Afghanistan — Another Cambodia?" Commentary August 1982: 33-34. Some of the 
testimonies on which this article was based were first published in Liberation . April 19-20, 1980, and 
all were later assembled in Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques." 


"I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say Sayyid Abdullah was not a normal 
man. He was a beast. At night he drank, and, once he was drunk, he would 
show people how powerful he was. If a prisoner made the least mistake ... or 
even, he took them randomly, innocent people, and he killed them just like 
that. No trial. No reason. No logic. He had power, and the government had 
given him full authority to do whatever he wanted. He exercised his power 
every night. He made speeches, the speeches of a drunkard. He noticed for 
example that someone wasn't applauding. 'Why aren't you [using the familiar 
form tu, used with family members and children and to show disrespect] 
applauding?' He had him beaten to death. He beat him, fifteen or so other 
soldiers beat him, he beat him again, till he got tired of beating him." 

3.40 In 1979 a prisoner named Sayyid Akbar killed Sayyid Abdullah while on the 
way to his own execution. Sayyid Akbar's brother, Sayyid Umar, had been executed 
the previous day, and he had smuggled a knife into the prison with the help of a 
guard. 57 

3.41 When the prison was opened after the Soviet invasion, according to witnesses: 

"So many women came to find their husbands! Their family members! They 
couldn't find them in the cells. Then the soldiers told them, 'Lots of people 
are buried . . . there.' The women surrounded the open latrines, they looked 
for corpses with sticks, the corpses of their family members. They were 
crying at the same time. They cried. They shrieked. (The witness gestured 
like a woman holding back her veil with one hand and digging with a stick 
with the other.) They had their children with them. It was their last hope to 
find those who disappeared." 58 

3.42 The total number of those who disappeared has never been established. When 
Hafizullah Amin took full power after killing Taraki in September 1979, the Ministry 
of the Interior announced that it would publish the names of twelve thousand people 
who had died in Kabul jails since April 1978. The list was never published, however. 59 
According to Dupree, "The Amin regime attempted to place blame for the repressions 
on Taraki by announcing a list of 12,000 persons executed prior to September 15. . . . 
The announcements stopped abruptly after about half the names had been released, 
because 10,000 demonstrators in front of the Ministry of the Interior demanded more 
details, and the government feared an outbreak of violence." 60 

3.43 After the Soviet invasion the new government and other sources gave various 
numbers for those killed by the former regime in Pul-i Charkhi. Special Rapporteur 
Ermacora summarized the evidence in 1986: 

57 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 196-197. 

58 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 201. 

59 Jeri Laber and Barnett R. Rubin, A Nation is Dying: Afghanistan Under the Soviets 1979-87 
(Evanston, 111.: Northwestern University Press, 1988) 177. 

60 Dupree, Red Flag. Part VI 9. 

page 24 

"[The Special Rapporteur] received information concerning the disappearance 
of persons prior to 27 December 1978. It was alleged that some 9,000 persons 
had been killed, although Amnesty International refers to a list of 4,845 
[actually 4,854] killed. As stated in his report to the General Assembly 
(A/40/843, para. 50), the Special Rapporteur was informed that the number of 
persons considered to have disappeared before the amnesty in 1980 is, in fact, 
much higher than that previously announced. Recently the Special Rapporteur 
heard the testimony of a former member of the Ministry of Planning in 
Afghanistan, who was authorized in February 1980 to register all missing 
persons on the basis of information received from their relatives and friends. 
In three weeks over 25,000 persons between the ages of 18 and 60 had been 
registered. The missing persons were well educated and included medical 
doctors, government officials, military or religious people. An analysis was 
ordered by the minister in charge. In the view of the witness, well over 
27,000 persons would have been registered missing if the registration 
procedure had not been stopped when it was discovered that the number of 
missing persons was much higher than foreseen." 61 

3.44 These numbers concern almost exclusively those who disappeared in the jails 
in Kabul. Including all those who disappeared throughout the country during those 
twenty months would multiply this number by an as yet undetermined factor. Olivier 
Roy, a scholar, suggested that, including those outside of Kabul, "in all, between 
50,000 and 100,000 people disappeared. . . . Partial inquiries have been made but the 
story of this wave of repression has yet to be written." 62 

C. Torture and Degrading Treatment or Punishment 

3.45 Reports on this period have tended understandably to focus on the mass 
killings and enforced disappearances of tens of thousands of people rather than on the 
treatment of detainees. Testimonies, including those cited below, are unanimous, 
however, that prisoners were tortured during their interrogation and as punishment, 
that punishments included the use of torture as a particularly painful form of 
execution, and that the conditions under which the government held detainees, 
especially in Pul-i Charkhi prison, were uniquely painful, life-threatening, degrading, 
and humiliating. According to Special Rapporteur Ermacora, "None of the political 
prisoners arrested between April 1978 and December 1979 had been brought to 
justice [tried by a court]." 63 

3.46 Though this period was not part of his terms of reference, which dealt with the 
situation starting with his appointment in 1984, the first special rapporteur on 
Afghanistan observed of this period: 

"Several individuals gave the Special Rapporteur an account of ill-treatment 
suffered during their detention, including, deprivation of sleep, tearing out of 

E/CN.4/1 986/24 para. 18. 

Roy, Islam and Resistance 95, 97. 

E/CN/4/1985/21 para. 75. 


fingernails, burns of various types, electric charges, in some cases involving 
the use of electric generators." 64 

3.47 Azizullah Ludin, mentioned above as the current head of the anti-corruption 
unit in the Afghan presidency, told Professor Ermacora that he had personally been 
tortured by some of these methods. He also recounted the torture of Sayed Abdullah 
Kazim, a former Dean of the Faculty of Economics, who was arrested with Ludin for 
the same anti-government plot: 

"Mr. Ludin, himself arrested in June 1978 and detained until 1 1 January 1980 
in the Poli Charki prison, reveals that he himself was present during the 
torturing of Mr. Kazim, who had the fingers of both hands crushed under the 
legs of a chair on which two of his torturers sat." 65 

3.48 Amnesty International also reported at the time that it had "received a 
substantial number of allegations that political prisoners are being subjected to torture. 
Fears have been expressed that some prisoners are now paralysed and that others died 
as a result of torture." Witnesses told Amnesty International of a former minister 
languishing in Pul-i Charkhi with "blood coming out of his mouth." Amnesty 
International also "received several specific allegations that political prisoners have 
died as a result of torture." Methods of torture included "severe beatings, whipping, 
pulling out of prisoners' nails, burning of the hair and sleep deprivation. Some 
reports also allege that political prisoners are given electric shocks." 66 

3.49 Louis Dupree, the American scholar, repeatedly heard screams from prisoners 
being tortured while he was detained. He personally witnessed a Hazara student 
being tortured with shocks from a crude electrical device, a crank-operated 
generator. 67 

3.50 The testimonies collected by Michael Barry in early 1980, when the memories 
of newly released prisoners were fresh, recounted regular sessions of torture of many 
types. One former prisoner, a professor at Kabul University, described his 
interrogation in the Ministry of the Interior by AGSA: 

"The torture started at 10 o'clock at night and lasted till four in the morning. 
It was electric shocks and also a sort of electric chair. They passed electricity 
into the chair and the chair moved, shook. It was sometimes unbearable. And 
then as I said they beat us with cables and also with sticks. Then they also 
hung us like this: they attached some kind of ropes to our hands, and then 
hung the man from the ceiling, but his toes touched the ground. The toes were 
touching the floor, but he was like half-hanging there. It was a hard torture, 
because it lasted eight hours, or ten hours. They hung me like that for about 
fifty-two hours." 68 

64 E/CN/4/1 985/21 para. 76. 

65 E/CN/4/1 985/21 para 75. 

66 Amnesty International, Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 15-16. 

67 Dupree, Red Flag. Part VI 5. 

68 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 192. 

page 26 

3.51 It would not be difficult, but perhaps would be superfluous, to add numerous 
other examples. 

3.52 In addition to torture during interrogation, extreme humiliation of prisoners — 
and even their visitors — was standard procedure. Amnesty International reported: 

"Many political prisoners are reportedly being denied all family visits and are 
not allowed to write or receive letters. Amnesty International knows of many 
cases in which political prisoners have been denied any contact with their 
relatives and friends ever since their arrest, in some cases for more than one 
year. In such cases relatives are only allowed to hand in clean clothes for the 
prisoners at the jail gate. On 4 May 1979 an incident was reported in the 
international press to have taken place in front of Pule Charkhi prison, Kabul. 
Women and children, relatives of political prisoners, had gathered at the jail 
gate and protested to the prison authorities about being denied visits to their 
imprisoned relatives and about not receiving any news from the prisoners 
since their arrest. ( Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . 23 May 1979.) 
According to reports which remain unconfirmed, several women died in the 
incident. . . . Amnesty International knows of several cases where relatives 
have been told at the jail gate, when bringing clean clothes for a prisoner, that 
'this was no longer necessary.' This has naturally greatly increased the 
families' concern for the prisoners' safety, and led to fears that the prisoner is 
no longer alive." 69 

3.53 In September 1979 Amnesty International estimated that the prison held 
12,000 prisoners.™ As a result, prisoners were crowded, often to the point where there 
was no room to lie down to sleep. Disease was rampant, respiratory diseases in the 
winter and gastrointestinal ones in the summer. Food was scarce and rancid. But the 
biggest source of humiliation was control by the guards over access to the prison's 
toilets, located in latrines outside the main prison blocks. 

3.54 Prisoners were kept in crowded, filthy cells and forbidden to visit the latrines 
in the courtyard more than once or twice a day. Any infraction, such as soiling the 
cell or communicating with other prisoners through the walls, was punished by 
beating or worse. Two months after his release, Dr. Abdullah Osman described 
prison conditions as follows: 

(a) "They threw me in a cell and locked me in. It was a filthy cell. It was 
already winter, and there was no heat. The ceiling was dripping. On the floor 
was nothing but a thin mattress and two covers. They told me, 'Stay there! ' 
[using the familiar form tu] After a few minutes in my cell, I felt a natural 
need, and I asked to be let out. They told me it was against the rules except at 
certain times, that I had to shut up, or I would be beaten. It happened that the 
cell next to mine was occupied, and we could communicate by calling through 
the wall. We were found out and beaten. Many people were beaten for having 
spoken through the walls. 

Amnesty International, Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 16-17. 
Amnesty International, Violations of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 9. 


(b) "In addition, any writing implement or any reading material was 
forbidden: book, pen, or paper. So we could not communicate with anyone or 
write anything, or even read a book. All that was forbidden. 

(c) "They took us outside to the toilets. Actually, they weren't toilets 
properly speaking, but open latrines, as in the countryside. We had to wait in 
line, and we did not have the right to spend more than three to five minutes. 
Someone who took longer was insulted, pulled outside before being able to 
pull his clothes back on, and beaten. They told them, 'Go back the way you 
came.' I saw people try to get back in line, and they were beaten. Then we 
were locked up again, and twenty-four, sometimes forty-eight hours would 
pass before we were taken back to the toilets." 71 

3.55 Dr. Osman was not allowed to wash for two months and was then given some 
icy water in the middle of winter. He observed many who contracted pneumonia that 
winter, and many died from treatable diseases for lack of care. 

3.56 Another professor described the humiliation of prisoners in this manner: 

(a) "During the time we went to the toilets, they took detainees out by 
force, half-naked, saying their time was finished. I once saw a general pulled 
out by a simple soldier, who said to him, 'You're [tu] no general any more! I 
am! ' The general could not pull his pants up. . . . 

(b) "You had to wait in line. The time allowed was only three minutes, 
and then you had to come out again. The line was so long that some prisoners 
never got their turn. Recreation period was over; they had to go back to the 
cells and then wait another twenty-four hours. Some were begging to have the 
right to go. They were sick with dysentery. The soldiers answered that they 
should do it in their cells, in their pants. After twenty-four hours, one prisoner 
couldn't hold himself back any longer. But then he had committed a crime. 
He had soiled his cell. Then the soldiers and an officer took him out of his 
cell, showed him off to the other prisoners, saying he had dirtied his cell. 
Then at every step in the corridor, before the prisoners, they beat him, telling 
the others, 'If you commit the same crime, if you soil your cells, you will be 
beaten in the same way.' 

(c) "That was the condition of the toilets. There was a joke among the 
prisoners. Let's revolt together! Our slogan will be, 'Toilets! Toilets! 
Toilets! ' Because in France, in the Bastille, the people cried out for bread. 
For us it was this." 72 

3.57 Currently available documentation, unfortunately, does not tell much about the 
treatment of women prisoners during this period. One story of a woman who was 
trying to visit her brother, an imprisoned Parchami, in the men's block suggests that 
there may have been some mistreatment. Though she was not even a prisoner, she 
was humiliated by the guards by being forced to stand naked before the prisoners. 

Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 182. 
Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 200-201. 

page 28 

The professor interviewed by Michael Barry witnessed this event while being led to 
the toilets. The woman went the wrong way and was stopped by a soldier in the 

(a) "The woman said something against them, and Sayyid Abdullah was 
standing there. He ordered them to whip the woman, and five soldiers 
attacked the woman, an innocent, defenseless woman. Then he shouted, 
'Undress her! ' That happened in front of a thousand prisoners who were 
standing there. They might be good witnesses if you meet them. They 
undressed her. The man threw himself over his sister to cover her. Then 
Sayyid Abdullah shouted, 'Undress him too! ' It was also a sort of torture to 
undress them and leave them naked in front of everyone. . . . 

(b) "A man, a mullah started shouting from his cell, insulting Sayyid 
Abdullah: 'She is a woman! A woman must be respected in Islam! A woman 
must be respected by Afghans! ' That's what he was shouting. Then Sayyid 
Abdullah had four soldiers get the mullah. They undressed him too. They 
stuck a bayonet in his rear, yes, there, between the buttocks, and they pushed, 
and he shouted, 'God is Great! Allahu Akbar! ' Then afterwards they took 
him on the other side of the wall and killed him. In the courtyard the woman 
was naked, and the man was naked. They stayed standing there like that ten, 
eleven minutes, and then the show was over." 73 

D. Mass Reprisal Killings 

3.58 As parts of the country passed into resistance, the regime started to respond 
with massive reprisals against civilians, such as those documented below. Such 
reprisals occurred after urban uprisings in Herat and Kabul, where the regime arrested 
and executed hundreds of people, and in several other regions to which armed 
resistance spread. 

3.59 In March 1979 there were mutinies in important military bases on the borders 
of both Iran and Pakistan. According to the UN Special Rapporteur, Felix Ermacora, 
the government carried out reprisals in Herat: 

"The gist of the information given the Special Rapporteur indicates that about 
1,000 persons, if not more, were arrested during the period up to April 1979 
following an uprising in the town of Herat. In some instances the arrests of 
political prisoners was followed by detention of their wives and children. The 
range of persons arrested extends from members of the fundamentalist 
religious groups to members of extreme left groups and embraces members of 
the Government, students, businessmen, diplomats, academics and party 
dignitaries." 74 

3.60 Earlier that month, in the east, Brigadier Abdul Rauf had led a mutiny in the 
Asmar garrison, Kunar province, and joined the mujahidin with his weapons. The 
regime responded to the new round of fighting with a massacre of about 1 ,200 

Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 193. 
E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 72. 


civilians. Several independent accounts entirely agree on important details, including 
the number of those killed. The number killed is also consistent with the mass burial 
mounds on the site, which have been viewed by investigators of the Afghanistan 
Justice Project. The reports differ on the date, the identity of the commanding officers 
who ordered the killing, and whether Soviet advisers were present, all of which 
should be the subject of further investigation. 

3.61 On either Hut 16, 1357 (March 7, 1979) or Hamal 31, 1358 (April 20, 1979), a 
detachment of the Afghan army arrived in the village of Kilara, near the entrance to 
the valley, about 12 kilometers from the Pakistan border. 75 According to some 
accounts, they were accompanied by about four Soviet advisers. The commander 
called 1,200 men in the village to a jirga (tribal assembly). According to the account 
collected by the AIHRC, he held up a picture of King Amanullah and said that this 
great man had been forced to flee the country because of people like them. He asked 
them why they were helping the resistance. According to witnesses interviewed by 
Michael Barry, when he received no answer: 

"The Godless Commander Nezamuddin said, 'Prod!' [Pashto pronunciation of 
the Persian farud, "Lie down!"] There were perhaps twelve hundred people 
who lay down. Then he gave the order: 'Fire! ' Twelve hundred people, all the 
Muslims, were killed in this firing. And then there was a tank, what you call a 
bulldozer. This tank drove over the Muslims and lifted them up in the air and 
threw them in the ground. Some were still alive, but they were buried in the 
earth. The others were dead. They were buried in the earth." 76 

3.62 In Hazarajat the revolt had started earlier, in October 1978. By June the 
government controlled only two bazaars in major towns. At that time the government 
was busy with its reforms, but the following spring, when the Hazaras launched new 

75 Earlier Western accounts gave the name of the village as Kerala. The consonants transliterated as "r" 
and "1" have no precise English equivalent and are close to a sound often transliterated as "d." The 
AIHRC has identified the village as Kilara, called Kidari in the local dialect. This incident was first 
reported in Edward Girardet, "A Grim Chapter in Afghanistan War," Christian Science Monitor . 
February 4, 1980. His account is reprinted in greater detail in Edward Girardet, Afghanistan: The 
Soviet War . (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985) 107-109. The Afghanistan Justice Project has 
visited the village, where two mounds still mark the site where the local people reburied the dead. 
(Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past: The Legacy of War Crimes and the Political 
Transition in Afghanistan . October 2004: 16-17.) According to Girardet's witnesses, as well as an 
Afghan soldier who witnessed the killings and testified in Oslo in March 1983, a group of Soviet 
advisers accompanied the Afghan unit and approved the order to shoot. The preliminary investigation 
by the AJP does not mention any Soviet involvement. All accounts agree that about 1 ,200 unarmed 
villagers were killed while assembled without arms in a peaceful jirga. Girardet and the investigations 
conducted by the AIHRC give the date as April 20, while Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 
227, and the AJP give the date as March 7. It is possible that the earlier date is actually the date of the 
Asmar mutiny and the later date that of the massacre, but investigations are ongoing. 

76 Quoted in Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques." The AIHRC investigation also places 
"Nizamuddin the Godless" on the scene, but as a civilian official. It identifies Sadiq Alimyar as the 
military commander. This may be Muhammad Siddiq Alimyar, a close associate of Hafizullah Amin, 
accused by Politburo member Anahita Ratibzad along with his brother Muhammad Arif of having 
carried out "terrorist" acts on behalf of Amin ( Kabul Times . January 2, 1980.) The Afghanistan Justice 
Project's research gives the name of the commander as Major General (Turan Jinral) Gul Rang, of 
Hisarak, Nangarhar, who later became commander of the Afghanistan Eastern Operational Group at 
Sarobi. It also places Siddiq Alimyar at the scene. 

page 30 

uprisings, the government launched reprisals. In April-May 1979, a group of Hazaras 
had overrun government posts near the northern provincial center of Samangan. 
According to a number of testimonies reported by Michael Barry, soon after that 
resistance offensive, Afghan troops with Soviet advisers rounded up all the males 
from one village in a nearby Valley, Darra-yi Suf, and drowned them in the Amu 
Darya (Oxus River). Several testimonies give the number of dead as 1,500. Other 
Hazara elders were thrown into a nearby ravine and machine-gunned. 77 A mass grave 
dating from this period was also later found in Bamyan, though accounts of how the 
victims were killed have not been found. 78 This same area, as noted below, was later 
the scene of repeated Taliban atrocities. 

3.63 There were several reported incidents of mass reprisals in Kabul. According 
to the AIHRC, arrests of scholars and intellectuals from the Shi'a (Hazara and 
Qizilbash) communities in Kabul provoked demonstrations on July 3, 1979, (Saratan 
2, 1358) in the largely Hazara area of Chindawul. According to research carried out 
by the AIHRC: 

(a) "Around 200 Hazaras with [Afghan national] tri-colored (Black, Red 
and Green) and [Islamic] green colored flags had poured out in the streets and 
were shouting against the Kabul regime. Thousands of other people had also 
joined them and they were armed with the very basic things such as wooden 
sticks, knives, and old swords. 

(b) "Around 1 1:00 to 12:00 noon same day, the protesters came under 
attacks from armed- to-the-teeth regime soldiers. They [the soldiers] were 
shooting at them and some people were killed. A small number of people who 
survived this rampage were later arrested and taken into custody and never 
reappeared." 79 

3.64 The number of those arrested in the subsequent reprisals is not known with 
certainty. According to both the refugees and Le Monde , the police arrested about 
three hundred Hazaras living in Kabul, half of whom were burned with gasoline and 
half buried alive. 80 Villagers from Deh Sabz, ethnic Pashtuns who were not involved 
in the incident but who lived near the execution ground, witnessed the burnings: 

"I saw with my own eyes, I went to cut wood at eleven in the morning. They 
were soaking people with gasoline, alive. There was one all covered with 
gasoline who started to run away. The others were too well tied up, feet and 
hands, and they soaked them with gasoline. But that man ran away, and they 
killed him. The others, they set on fire! For twenty-four hours for a whole 
day and night, their fire gave off such an odor of cooked fat! . . . The smell of 
the fat flowed from their tombs. The smell was blown over our village for 
twenty-four hours." 

77 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 211-13, gives several independent accounts. 

78 Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane . 

79 Electronic mail from AIHRC, August 4, 2004. 

80 Testimonies in Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 204; also reported in Le Monde . August 17, 


3.65 Other refugees from Deh Sabz testified that they had seen — and smelled — the 
same thing. 81 

3.66 On August 5, 1979, a group of army officers affiliated with "Maoist" and 
other leftist groups launched a mutiny in the Bala Hissar of Kabul, one of the main 
fortresses in the city, and the former headquarters of Babur, who founded the Mughal 
empire. The plot was discovered and crushed. According to AIHRC, "Some of the 
rebellious military officers were killed during the unrest and the rest were arrested and 
killed afterward. They were around 1200 people." 82 

3.67 Roy also mentions a large-scale reprisal killing in Farah province, in the 
southwest. 83 Barry relayed reports of the burial alive of 650 prisoners in Laghman, 84 
which might be the same incident reported several years later by UN Special 
Rapporteur Felix Ermacora: 

"The Special Rapporteur was informed by an eyewitness that, in September 
1978, in Laghman Province, 360 people, mostly civilians, had been taken 
away blindfolded and handcuffed and it was stated that they had subsequently 
been burnt alive." 85 

3.68 Details of these and many other killings are still lacking in the documentary 

81 Barry, "Repression et guerre sovietiques" 202-205. 

82 Electronic mail from AIHRC, August 4, 2004. 

83 Roy, Islam and Resistance 97. 

84 Barry, "Repressions et guerre sovietiques" 213-15. 

85 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/41/778, 1986) para. 37. 

page 32 

(December 27, 1979-April 15, 1992 / Qaws 10, 1358-Hamal 26, 1371): 

4. 1 Once the Soviet commandos had eliminated Amin, the USSR established a 
new government dominated by Parcham, though Khalqis retained important positions 
in the officer corps and the ministry of the interior. Because of the pervasive presence 
of Soviet advisers and troops, who outnumbered regular Afghan military forces, it is 
difficult to establish who bore responsibility for the violations committed during this 
time. On the Afghan side, Babrak Karmal was head of both the party and state until 
his successive removal from both of those positions in 1986. Najibullah replaced him 
immediately as head of the party and, after a brief interregnum, as head of state. 1 
Najibullah served from 1980 to 1986 as head of the new intelligence agency, KhAD 
(see below), and was replaced by his deputy, Ghulam Faruq Ya'qubi, in 1986. Sultan 
Ali Kishtmand, who was prime minister until 1990 (with a brief break), did not 
control or supervise the security organs. His non-party successors, Hasan Sharq and 
Fazl Haq Khaliqyar, had even less authority. The position of Minister of Defense was 
a factional issue between Parcham and Khalq throughout most of this time, and it 
went back and forth between Khalqi generals Nazar Muhammad and Shahnawaz 
Tanai on the one hand and Parchami generals Abdul Qadir and Muhammad Rafi on 
the other. Parchamis Baba Jan and Asif Dilawar also served as chiefs of staff to 
balance the Khalqi presence in the ministry. The position of minister of the interior, 
however, was reserved for Khalq, and this position was held by Sayyid Muhammad 
Gulabzoy during 1980-1988. His power was balanced by a confidant of Najibullah, 
Manokai Mangal, who served as political director. After 1988, when Gulabzoi was 
banished as ambassador to Moscow, Khalqi Aslam Watanjar became Minister of the 

4.2 At least until 1989, of course, these entities worked closely with, and 
sometimes in de facto subordination to, their counterparts in the Soviet ministry of 
defense, ministry of the interior, and KGB. In addition, until almost the end of this 
period, both countries had a system under which the political bureau of the central 
committee (politburo) of the ruling party (Communist Party of the USSR and 
PDPA/Watan Party) played the leading role in policy making. The members of the 
politburos of the two parties could therefore also be held accountable for the decisions 
and policies during this period. 2 Box 4. 1 contains a list of Soviet Politburo members 
during that time. 

1 The formal institutional structure of the government changed during this time. From 1980 to 1987 the 
head of state was the chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the DRA. After the adoption of the 
constitution in 1987, the position was renamed president. Under the 1990 constitution, the country 
reverted to its name during Daud's presidency, the Republic of Afghanistan. At a party congress at 
about the same time, the PDPA renamed itself the Watan (Homeland) Party. 

2 For detailed studies of these power structures, leadership changes, and institutional functioning, see 
Barnett R. Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International 
System (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, first edition 1995); and Antonio Giustozzi, War. 
Politics and Society in Afghanistan. 1978-1992 (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 


4.3 Soon after taking power, the new government of the DRA declared an amnesty 
and threw open the gates of Pul-i Charkhi prison. Between January 8 and 11, 1980, 
thousands of relatives of the disappeared besieged the prison looking for their lost 
family members, giving rise to some of the scenes described in the previous chapter. 
Many of the thousands of survivors soon fled the country, often finding refuge in the 
Western countries where they had been educated. 

Box 4.1. Soviet Authorities with Responsibilities Relating to Afghanistan, 1979- 

General Secretaries of the Central Committee 

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev 
Yuriy Vladimirovich Andropov 
Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko 
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev 

April 8, 1966-November 10, 1982 
November 12, 1982-February 9, 1984 
February 13, 1984-March 10, 1985 
March 11, 1985-August 24, 1991 

Ministers of Foreign Affairs 

Andrey Andreyevich Gromyko 
Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze 
Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Bessmertnykh 
Boris Dmitriyevich Pankin 

February 15, 1957-July2, 1985 
July 2, 1985-January 15, 1991 
January 15, 1991-August 23, 1991 
August 28, 1991-November 14, 1991 

Ministers of Defense 

Dmitriy Fyodorovich Ustinov 
Sergey Leonidovich Sokolov 
Dmitriy Timofeyevich Yazov 
Mikhail Akekseyevich Moiseyev 

Yevgeniy Ivanovich Shaposhnikov 

April 29, 1976-December20, 1984 

December 22, 1984-May30, 1987 

May 30, 1987-August 22, 1991 

August 22, 1991-August 23, 1991 

August 23, 1991-December 26, 1991 

page 34 

Director of Committee for State Security 

Yuriy Vladimirovich Andropov 
Vitaliy Vasilyevich Fedorchuk 
Viktor Mikhaylovich Chebrikov 
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchkov 
Leonid Nikolayevich Shebarshin 

Vadim Viktorovich Bakatin 

May 18, 1967-May 26, 1982 

May 18, 1982-December 17, 1982 

December 17, 1982-October 1, 1988 

October 1, 1988-August 22, 1991 

August 22, 1991-August23, 1991 

August 23, 1991-October22, 1991 

Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) 

Nikolai Anisimovich Shcholokov 

Vitaliy Vasilyevich Fedorchuk 
Aleksandr Vladimirovic Vlasov 
Vadim Viktorovich Bakatin 
Boris Karlovich Pugo 
Vasiliy Petrovich Trushin 

Viktor Pavlovich Barannikov 

Politburo Members of the CPSU Central 

Mikhail Andreyevich Suslov (2nd time) 
Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev 
Aleksey Nikolayevich Kosygin (2nd time) 
Andrey Pavlovich Kirilenko 
Arvid Yanovich Pelshe 
Viktor Vasilyevich Grishin 
Dinmukhamed Akhmedovich Kunayev 
Vladimir Vasilyevich Shcherbitskiy 
Yuriy Vladimirovich Andropov 
Andrey Andreyevich Gromyko 
Grigoriy Vasilyevich Romanov 
Dmitriy Fyodorovich Ustinov 
Nikolay Aleksandrovich Tikhonov 

November 25, 1968-December 17, 

December 17, 1982-January 24, 1986 

January 24, 1986-October 10, 1988 

October 20, 1988-December 1, 1990 

December 1, 1990-August 22, 1991 

August 22, 1991-August23, 1991 

August 23, 1991-December26, 1991 
ull Members 

July 12, 1955-January25, 1982 
June 29, 1957-November 10, 1982 
May 4, 1960-October 21, 1980 
April 25, 1962-November22, 1982 
April 8, 1966-May27, 1983 
April 9, 1971-February 18, 1986 
April 9, 1971-January28, 1987 
April 9, 1971-September20, 1989 
April 27, 1973-February9, 1984 
April 27, 1973-September30, 1988 
March 4, 1976-July 1, 1985 
March 4, 1976-December 20, 1984 
November 27, 1978-October 15, 1985 


Konstantin Ustinovich Chernenko 

November 27, 1978-March 10, 1985 

Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev 
Heydar Ali Rzaogly Aliev 
Mikhail Sergeyevich Solomentsev 
Vitaliy Ivanovich Vorotnikov 
Viktor Mikhaylovich Chebrikov 
Yegor Kuzmich Ligachev 
Nikolay Ivanovich Ryzhkov 
Eduard Amvrosiyevich Shevardnadze 
Lev Nikolayevich Zaykov 

October 21, 1980-August 24, 1991 
November 22, 1982-October 21, 1987 
December 26, 1983-September 30, 1988 

December 26, 1983-July 14, 1990 
April 23, 1985-September20, 1989 
April 23, 1985-July 14, 1990 

April 23, 1985-July 14, 1990 
July 1, 1985-July 14, 1990 
March 6, 1986-July 14, 1990 

Viktor Petrovich Nikonov 

July 26, 1987-September20, 1989 
July 26, 1987-July 14, 1990 

Nikolay Nikitovich Slyunkov 
Aleksandr Sergeyevich Yakovlev 
Vadim Andreyevich Medvedev 
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Kryuchkov 
Yuriy Dmitriyevich Maslyukov 

July 26, 1987-July 14, 1990 

September 30, 1988-July 14, 1990 
September 30, 1989-July 14, 1990 
September 20, 1989-July 14, 1990 
December 9, 1989-August 24, 1991 

Vladimir Antonovich Ivashko 

4.4 The new government, unlike the previous one, was firmly under the control of 
the Soviet Union, whose troops soon approached the 100,000 mark, and which had 
advisers in every ministry. 3 In addition, the KGB established a new Afghan 
organization, modeled on itself, combining domestic and international intelligence 
functions with those of a secret police and covert action organization. 4 The new 
organization was called Khidamat-i Ittila'at-i Dawlati . the State Information Services, 
known by its acronym, KhAD. Its founding leader was Dr. Najibullah, a young 
Parchami activist from the Medical Faculty, whom Taraki and Amin had banished 
abroad. According to John Fullerton of the Far Eastern Economic Review , during his 
period in exile, Najibullah received intelligence training in Bulgaria. 5 

4.5 This organization was renamed several times. In 1986 Najibullah made it a 
ministry called "WAD" (Ministry of State Security), and the mujahidin, Taliban, and 
current governments renamed it the "National Security Directorate" (NSD), 
commonly called Amaniyyat (security). 

4.6 During the more than twelve years covered by this chapter and the three that 
follow, the political situation, the leadership of both the Afghan government and the 
USSR, and the pattern of human rights violations changed. The end of this period 
coincided with the breakup of the Soviet Union itself. The United States and its 

3 William Maley, The Afghanistan Wars (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Giustozzi. 

4 Giustozzi 98 and 1 16; Rubin, Fragmentation 122; Maley, The Afghanistan Wars 97-99. 

5 John Fullerton, The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan (Hong Kong: Far Eastern Economic Review 

Ltd., 1983). 

page 36 

partners, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and China, were reported to have armed and trained 
Afghan Sunni resistance groups during this period, while Iran did likewise with Shi'a 
ones, according to a number of reports cited below. 

4.7 During the early to mid-1980s, the USSR established a highly repressive 
regime in Kabul and other cities, while pursuing a brutal counterinsurgency in 
strategically located portions of the countryside. 6 Helsinki Watch commented in 
1984, "Just about every conceivable human rights violation is occurring in 
Afghanistan, and on an enormous scale." 7 The counterinsurgency and repression 
drove five to six million Afghans (about a third of the population) into exile as 
refugees, mostly in the neighboring countries of Pakistan and Iran. Since that time, 
Afghans have represented the world's largest refugee caseload. During this period 
government institutions essentially disappeared in parts of the country that had no 
strategic importance or that were depopulated by the counterinsurgency strategy. 

4.8 After coming to power in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev, together with his Foreign 
Minister, Eduard Shevardnadze, soon sought to withdraw Soviet troops from 
Afghanistan and find a political solution. They removed Babrak Karmal and replaced 
him with the much more flexible and politically skilled Najibullah, though the latter's 
background as chief of KhAD seemed an insuperable obstacle to his acceptability. 
The regime declared a policy of "national reconciliation," under which it stopped 
trying to impose any revolutionary reforms, swore adherence to Islam, and offered 
massive subsidies to any commanders who would join it, or at least quit the 
mujahidin. The regime also created new paramilitary units or militias in Kabul and 
other strategic areas. In many areas, it essentially ceded control to these militias, 
another milestone in the dissolution of the state in Afghanistan. For the first time, it 
cooperated with human rights investigators and, as the human rights reports below 
attested, decreased violations of many rights. 8 

4.9 The USSR withdrew its troops from Afghanistan under the UN-mediated 
Geneva Accords, which were signed on April 14, 1988, and whose implementation 
schedule ended on February 15, 1989, when General Boris Gromov, the Soviet 
commander, followed his last troops across the Friendship Bridge. The Geneva 
Accords also appeared to require a cessation of external assistance by Pakistan and the 
US to armed groups in Afghanistan. These accords, negotiated through the good 
offices of the UN Secretary-General through his personal representative, Diego 
Cordovez, consisted of four instruments. The first instrument, signed by the 
governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, required the two states to refrain from 
interference in each other's affairs, including training, supplying, or dispatching of 
armed men from one country to the other. A second instrument, on "inter- 
relationships," established that the first instrument would enter into effect thirty days 
after the signing of the Accords, at which time "foreign [i.e. Soviet] troops" would 
commence their withdrawal from Afghanistan. Half of the troops would be 
withdrawn within three months and all by February 15, 1989. Hence, aid to the 

6 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries: Human Rights in Afghanistan Since the Invasion 1979- 
1984 (New York: Helsinki Watch Committee, 1984). 

7 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 4. 

8 On these policies and processes of change, see Rubin, Fragmentation : Doronsorro, La revolution 
afghane : Giustozzi 154-185 and 213-231; Maley, The Afghanistan Wars . 


mujahidin would cease as the withdrawal began, and the withdrawal would be "front- 
loaded." A third instrument was signed by the US and USSR, who promised to 
"guarantee" the observance of the Accords. A fourth instrument concerned the return 
of refugees. 9 

4.10 Despite Cordovez's efforts to negotiate a transitional government of 
technocrats involving the former king, Zahir Shah, the Accords did not provide for a 
change of government in Kabul or any transition process to stabilize the country. In 
1986, after the Reykjavik summit between Reagan and Gorbachev, the US 
government had committed itself to guarantee an accord that would end aid to the 
mujahidin, but President Ronald Reagan refused to cut off the mujahidin while the 
USSR continued to support the Najibullah government. Hence the US deposited a 
statement with the UN Secretary-General saying that in its view the responsibilities of 
the guarantors were "symmetrical," and that the US reserved to itself the right to aid 
parties in Afghanistan as long as the USSR did so. The US and USSR could not reach 
agreement on "negative symmetry" (ending aid to both sides) at that time, though they 
finally did so in September 1991, when relations between the two countries — one of 
which was about to break up — had changed radically. Hence, from the Soviet 
withdrawal to the breakup of the USSR, "positive symmetry" — aid to both the 
mujahidin and the Kabul government — continued, despite the Geneva Accords. 10 
From 1989 to 1991, the two superpowers (as they then were) did try to negotiate a 
political settlement in Afghanistan, including implementation of "negative 
symmetry." The talks always stumbled over Moscow's insistence that Najibullah 
must oversee a transition at the end of which he could leave, and the US's insistence 
that the transition must begin with his departure. 11 

4.11 After the end of the Soviet withdrawal, the regime withstood a March 1989 
offensive at Jalalabad sponsored by Pakistan and the US against the advice of local 
mujahidin commanders. Arab fighters from the newly founded al-Qaida organization 
participated, including Usama bin Laden himself. 12 Najibullah confronted increased 
factional pressure and resistance as he initiated a process of reform modeled on that in 
Moscow. The government adopted a new constitutions in 1987, restoring the name of 
Daud's Republic of Afghanistan, and amended it extensively in 1990. Though 
implementation of these reforms was slow, the regime's abandonment of 
revolutionary policy and rhetoric succeeded in neutralizing if not winning over much 
of the opposition. Various regime figures also began secret negotiations and power- 
sharing deals with mujahidin leaders that became open in 1992. 13 

9 Diego Cordovez and Selig S. Harrison, Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet 
Withdrawal (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); Riaz Muhammad Khan, Untying the Afghan 
Knot: Negotiating Soviet Withdrawal (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991); Barnett R. Rubin, 
The Search for Peace in Afghanistan: From Buffer State to Failed State (New Haven: Yale University 
Press, 1995). 

10 Cordovez and Harrison; Khan; Rubin, The Search for Peace . 

11 Rubin, The Search for Peace . 

12 Rubin, Fragmentation : Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA. Afghanistan, and Bin 
Laden: From the Soviet Invasion to September 10. 2001 (New York: The Penguin Press, 2004). More 
information on this battle is presented in Chapter Seven of this report. 

13 Rubin, Fragmentation : Olivier Roy. Afghanistan: From Holy War to Civil War (Princeton, N.J.: 

page 38 

4.12 In March 1990, a little more than a year after the end of the Soviet withdrawal, 
some Khalqi officers led by Defense Minister Shahnawaz Tanai launched a coup with 
the support of hardline Pakistani-supported Islamist Gulbuddin Hikmatyar. 14 The 
coup failed, and after mass arrests and some executions (described below), Najibullah 
rebalanced the regime, giving remaining Khalqis a reduced share, and gradually 
opening the government to non-party technocrats. The revolution had been over for 
some time. Now the alliance between hardline communists and hardline Islamists 
announced to any remaining doubters that jihad was also over, and the naked power 
struggle had begun. 15 

4.13 After the collapse of the USSR at the end of 1 99 1 , Russia abandoned the 
regime the USSR had supported, and the UN formulated a transition plan supported 
by the US and, ostensibly, by Pakistan. Under heavy pressure, Najibullah announced 
his resignation on national television. He was to fly to refuge in India and be replaced 
by a technocratic transitional government. The power vacuum this plan created, 
however, led to the collapse of the armed forces, the defection of regime militias, and 
a competitive dash for Kabul by armed groups. Najibullah's exit was blocked by his 
own former militias, who felt he had betrayed them, and he took refuge in the UN 
office, where he lived until his capture, torture, mutilation, and execution by the 
Taliban in September 1996. The forces of the newly formed "Northern Alliance," 
including non-Pashtun mujahidin and former regime militias, gained control of the 
capital after battles with forces of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar and Pashtun parts of the 
former regime forces. The Northern Alliance constituted the military power base of 
the newly established Islamic State of Afghanistan under President Burhanuddin 
Rabbani and Minister of Defense Ahmad Shah Massoud. 16 

A. Patterns of Human Rights Violations against the Rural Population 

4.14 In his 1985 report to the UN General Assembly, Special Rapporteur Ermacora 

"Concordant depositions indicate that four types of action have been directed 
against the civilian population: 

"(i) Acts of brutality committed by armed forces; 

"(ii) Bombardment and massacre following reprisals; 

"(iii) Use of anti-personnel mines and booby-trap toys; 

"(iv) Other consequences resulting from bombardments." 17 

Darwin Press, 1995); Maley, The Afghanistan Wars ; Giustozzi 249-250. 

14 Rubin, Fragmentation ; Roy, Islam and Resistance ; Maley, The Afghanistan Wars ; Giustozzi. 

15 Rubin, Fragmentation ; Roy, Islam and Resistance ; Maley, The Afghanistan Wars ; Giustozzi. 

16 Rubin, The Search for Peace : Maley, The Afghanistan Wars ; Dorronsoro; Coll, Ghost Wars . 

17 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/40/843, 1985) para. 77. 


4.15 Ermacora noted that "witnesses stressed that foreign [i.e. Soviet] troops were 
responsible for the brutality, which is widespread in military activities in different 
provinces." 18 Amnesty International likewise reported "the deliberate killing of 
unarmed civilians in reprisal for attacks by armed opposition groups" as well as 
"deliberate killings by Soviet and Afghan government forces during 1987 of Afghan 
refugees moving toward Pakistan." 19 

4.16 Ermacora reported statistics compiled by a Swiss research institution, the 
Bibliotheca Afghanica Foundation in Liestal, according to which "32,755 civilians 
were reported to have been killed in nine months in 1985, 1,834 houses and 74 
villages destroyed, and 3,308 animals killed." Professor Ermacora mentioned that in 
November and December 1985 alone 350 civilians were killed in bomb attacks and 
massacres. He mentioned one case in Parwan, north of Kabul, where forty civilians 
were killed in December 1985. 20 

4.17 Soviet soldiers described the orders, situations, and training that led them to 
commit such acts. Pvt. Oleg Khlan, a deserter from the Soviet Army, told The 
Christian Science Monitor on August 10, 1984: 

"We were ordered by our officers that when we attack a village, not one 
person must be left alive to tell the tale. If we refuse to carry out these orders, 
we get it in the neck ourselves." 

4.18 Sgt. Igor Rykov, a defector from the Soviet Army, described the searches 
conducted by his unit in Qandahar Province: 

"The officer would decide to have the village searched, and if it was found it 
contained a single bullet, the officer would say: 'This is a bandit village; it 
must be destroyed.' The men and young boys would be shot, and the women 
and children would be put in a separate room and killed with grenades." 21 

4. 19 Sometimes soldiers killed simply out of fear, as in this memory of a Soviet 
private in the intelligence corps: 

(a) "Only once something snapped inside me and I was struck by the 
horror of what we were doing. We were combing through a village. You 
fling open the door and throw in a grenade in case there's a machine-gun 
waiting for you. Why take a risk if a grenade can sort it out for you? I threw 
the grenade, went in and saw women, two little boys and a baby in some kind 
of box making do for a cot. 

18 A/40/843 (1985) para. 92. 

19 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Unlawful Killings and Torture . ASA 1 1/02/88 (London: 1988). 

20 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 986/24) para. 72. 

21 The Times . London, June 28, 1984. The Times added that Rykov said he had seen five villages of 
one hundred to two hundred people destroyed in this way. 

page 40 

(b) "You have to find some kind of justification to stop yourself going 
mad. Suppose it's true that the souls of the dead look down on us from 
above?" 22 

4.20 A number of the accounts by Afghan witnesses cited below include examples 
of precisely the tactics described by these Soviet soldiers. 

4.21 The combined effect of these actions on one area, between Herat and the 
Iranian border, can be seen in a verbal snapshot provided to Human Rights Watch in 
September 1984 by British author Nicholas Danziger, recently arrived in Peshawar, 
Pakistan, from a trip through Afghanistan: 

"We went along the asphalt road from Iran to Herat. The desert on the Iranian 
side was absolutely covered in track marks, the hooves of horses, of donkeys, 
of camels, footmarks, bicycle marks, you name it. By the time it was about 
nine o'clock in the morning, there were people in droves; a man with a camel: 
he'd lost all his family, and all his possessions were on top of the camel. There 
were some young boys who'd been orphaned. Then there were numerous 
donkeys with women riding on them with their husbands next to them. All of 
these people were on their way to Iran. I stayed in a village where they 
claimed there had been five thousand inhabitants. There remained one building 
intact in the whole village. I didn't see more than ten inhabitants there. To 
destroy this place the bombers came from Russia [the USSR]. And there were 
craters everywhere, even where there were no buildings, so there was no 
pretense about 'we're trying to hit the mujahidin.' It was a complete blitz. All 
the way from there on into Herat there was no one living there, absolutely no 
one. The town that I stayed in, Hauz-i Karbas, looks like Hiroshima. And there 
had been tremendous amounts of vineyards there, and they were just reduced 
to gray dust." 23 

4.22 Danziger was only one of many who described such scenes of devastation in 
the Afghan countryside during the early to mid-1980s. People coming from almost 
every area of Afghanistan — Western scholars, journalists, doctors, and nurses, as well 
as the Afghan refugees and resistance fighters themselves — told of vast destruction: 
carefully constructed homes reduced to rubble, deserted towns, the charred remains of 
wheat fields, and trees cut down by immense firepower or dropping their ripe fruit in 
silence, with no one to gather the harvest. 24 

4.23 A Soviet first lieutenant mused on why the Afghans hated the Soviets so 

"To them you're just a Russky, not a human being. Our artillery wipes his 
village off the face of the earth so thoroughly that when he goes back he 
literally can't find a trace of his mother, wife or children. Modern weaponry 

22 Svetlana Aleksievich, Zinky Boys: Soviet Voices from the Afghanistan War (London: Chatto and 
Windus, 1992) 171-172. 

23 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 23. 

24 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 23-24. 


makes our crime even greater. I can kill one man with a knife, two with a 
mine . . . dozens with a missile." 25 

4.24 According to an analysis published by the authors of Human Rights Watch's 
first report on Afghanistan: 

"This mass destruction was dictated by the political and military strategy of 
the Soviet Union and its Afghan allies. Unable to win the support or neutrality 
of the rural population that sheltered and fed the guerrillas, Soviet and DRA 
soldiers turned their firepower on civilians. When the resistance attacked a 
military convoy, Soviet and Afghan forces attacked the nearest village. If a 
region was a base area for the resistance, they bombed the villages repeatedly. 
If a strategic region became too much of a threat, they bombed it intensively 
and then swept through with ground troops, terrorizing the people and 
systematically destroying the delicately interrelated elements of the 
agricultural system. The aim was to force the people to abandon the resistance 
or, failing that, to drive them into exile." 26 

4.25 One elderly Qandahari told Human Rights Watch in 1984: 

"So many things have happened in the past five years that we are confused. 
All of our innocent people have been killed in different ways. They took many 
people from their houses and killed them. They were bombed by jet fighters or 
thrown alive in wells and buried under the mud. They were thrown down from 
airplanes, and some were put under tanks alive, and the tanks crushed them. 
They were all unarmed people. Some of them were given electricity and killed 
that way. Some were cut into pieces alive. These are things we could not 
remember even from the reign of Genghis Khan." 27 

4.26 This strategy came to an end after the Soviet politburo's decision, taken at a 
meeting in November 1986, to withdraw from Afghanistan. Hence most (though not 
all) of the reports of mass killing in the countryside date from the period through 
1986. 28 

B. Indiscriminate Bombing 

4.27 Bombardment of rural villages was a constant for much of the war. 29 This 
section deals with bombing of civilian targets without the use of ground troops. 
Combined operations involving both ground troops and bombardment are dealt with 
in the section on "massacres." 

25 Aleksievich 112. 

26 Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 10. 

27 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 39. Haji Muhammad Nairn Ayubi, sixty, former merchant, 
personal interview, Quetta, October 3, 1984. 

28 Rubin, Fragmentation ; Maley, The Afghanistan Wars . 

29 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 24. 

page 42 

4.28 Special Rapporteur Ermacora noted the highly destructive aerial weapons used 
in the bombardments, presumably by the Soviet military: 

"High-altitude bombardments were recorded. People spoke about bombs 
containing 40 individual rockets which explode 24 hours after deployment. 
Other weapons are reported to have been used during shelling. BM 54s with 
87 barrels have been fired against villages. BM 41s and BM 31s are still in 

use." 30 

4.29 The MiG-25 jet fighter bomber, the Mi-24 Hind armored helicopter, and the 
Grad BM-13 mortar were reported to have become as familiar to the Afghan villager 
as the bullocks that pull his plow. The Tu-16 Badger high-altitude bomber, flying 
directly from bases in the Soviet Union, was well known in the Panjshir Valley, 
according to reports. In November 1988 the USSR also introduced SCUD-B missiles 
to Afghanistan, which, according to Human Rights Watch, "carry warheads of 1,000 
kilograms and are highly inaccurate." 31 Professor Ermacora reported that these 
missiles were used in "continuous bombing" of Laghman, Nangarhar, Paktia, and 
Zabul provinces, and along the Pakistan border and the infiltration routes toward 

4.30 In 1985, Professor Ermacora stated that the witnesses considered the 
bombings to "constitute a deliberate policy designed to drive out the populations." 32 
The following year he noted: 

"The way in which the bombardments were carried out indicates a strategy 
that reflects an intention to clear up the provinces bordering on Pakistan and 
the Islamic Republic of Iran and to establish a cordon along the frontiers." 33 

4.31 Ermacora mentioned, for instance, that "on 12 April 1986, between 800 and 
1,000 civilians were killed by soldiers in the Andkhvoy District of Faryab Province 
during a bombing raid. . . . There have also been reports in the same province of 100 
civilians killed during encounters on 5 June 1986 between Afghan troops and 
opposition fighters." 34 Writing in 1990, he commented that the missiles used by 
Afghan forces at that time "are mainly concentrated on military targets, but 
inaccuracy of aim often appears to lead to destruction of civilian targets, causing 
much fear among the population." 35 

4.32 According to Human Rights Watch in 1984, when its researchers asked an 
Afghan villager why he or she came to Pakistan, the answer nearly always began with 
the words shurawi bombard mikardand (the Soviets were bombing). In Afghanistan 

30 E/CN.4/1 986/24 para. 86. 

31 Asia Watch, Afghanistan: The Forgotten War — Human Rights Abuses and Violations of the Laws of 
War since the Soviet Withdrawal (New York: 1991) 29. 

32 A/40/843 (1985) para. 81. 

33 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/41/778, 1986) para. 29. 

34 A/41/778 (1986) para. 63. 

35 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 990/25) para. 68. 


the most common target was the peasant village: the homes, fields, orchards, and 
mosques. In provincial towns the marketplace and residential areas became targets. 
These attacks were responsible for the vast majority of the estimated hundreds of 
thousands of civilian deaths. 36 

4.33 An account furnished to Human Rights Watch by Abdul Karim Muheb of 
Peshawar University was typical. At 9 A.M. on January 11, 1985, a squadron of 
helicopter gunships flew extremely high over the village of Wonkhi, Sayedabad 
district, Wardak province, seventy-five kilometers southwest of Kabul city. The 
people concluded from the height and high speed of the aircraft that the village would 
not be bombarded that day and therefore started their routine occupations. Soon, 
however, the helicopters returned from the east, this time at a low height over the 
village, accompanied by MiG fighters. The villagers guessed that the planes were 
passing over the village to return to Kabul, but the planes instead started bombing the 
villages of Wonkhi and Hassan Bake. According to the witness, the two types of 
planes had different tasks. The MiGs first destroyed larger targets, such as mosques, 
shops, and houses, including a mosque where thirty children of one of the villages 
were studying. Most of the villagers had rushed to that mosque, thinking they would 
be safe there, "but met," the witness said, "the destinies of death and destruction." The 
helicopters then circled very low over the villages, hunting survivors as well as 
livestock. When the planes left, people from neighboring villages rushed to the scene. 
"They started to dig out bodies from the ruined houses, shops, and buildings. The 
work of removing the piles continued for three days, and the dead bodies of thirty-six 
men and three ladies were unearthed. They also found thirty seriously wounded 
people." The witness gave the total destruction as eighty houses and two mosques in 
the two villages of Wonkhi and Hassan Bake. 37 

4.34 Sayed Azim, a former government official and graduate of the Faculty of 
Agriculture of Kabul University, told Human Rights Watch that his home region in 
Wardak Province, southwest of Kabul, had been bombed for years, even in the time of 
Taraki. According to his report, not long before the interview twelve helicopters had 
bombed the town of Maidan on September 9, 1984. They destroyed eight houses, 
killed nine people, and injured twenty-three others. 38 

4.35 Dr. Ghazi Alam, an orthopedic surgeon trained in Afghanistan, India, and the 
United States, was interviewed by Human Rights Watch in New York City on March 
30, 1984. He described the following pattern in Logar Province during the winter of 

"First of all the Russians terrorize civilians by bombarding the villages 
indiscriminately. They are killing civilians, especially the children and the 
women who cannot run away from their houses. There was not any firing, but 

36 Description of targets from Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries . Statistics on the sources of 
mortality from Marek Sliwinski, "The Decimation of Afghanistan," Orbis 33 (Winter 1988-89): 39-56. 

37 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan (New York: 1985) 11. Testimony of 
Najibullah, resident of Sayed Abad District; furnished by Abdul Karim Muheb, Central Asian Studies 
Center, Peshawar University. 

38 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 29. 

page 44 

they have bombarded regularly, each day or three times a week or twice a 
week, this region of Baraki Barak District in Logar [south of Kabul]. They 
have sent helicopters and MiGs. I have seen one case in Baraki Barak District 
that nine members of one family were killed by bombing. Only one was left 
alive. And this operation was just for psychological effect on people, that they 
should not feel security in their homes." 39 

4.36 Patrick David and Francois Frey, French doctors working with Aide Medicale 
Internationale, were reported to have witnessed a Soviet-Afghan offensive in the same 
area, Baraki Barak District of Logar Province, just south of Kabul, in September 
1984. "They were bombing the houses and the people doing the harvest in the fields. 
They shot rockets at them and killed them." They reported that two boys, the five- and 
seven-year-old sons of Gul Jan, were playing in a melon field in Chalozai when they 
were wounded by rockets from a helicopter. Russian soldiers had come into the area 
and killed and looted. On September 15 the doctors saw a helicopter fly low over the 
village of Chehltan: 

"Our translator said, 'Watch, this helicopter is dangerous.' It dropped 
something that left some smoke. A few minutes later four jets came and 
bombed where the helicopter showed. The targets were the people's houses. 
We saw the people running into the fields. The next day there were ten boys 
from Baraki Barak in the river, and a big shell exploded, a shell that had fallen 
in the river before. One boy died, and four were wounded." 40 

4.37 These bombings occurred in the area of the country near Kabul. Rudy 
Seynaeve, a Belgian nurse working for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), kept a 
detailed record of the victims he treated while working at a clinic in the southern part 
of Balkh Province, in the far north of the country, during the first six months of 1985. 
The area where he worked was largely under the control of the Jamiat-i Island 
resistance party. Seynaeve noted that at midday on April 11, 1985, jets and helicopters 
bombed a village named Mirzai in the valley of Zari with fragmentation weapons: 

"There were four bombs that fell in the proximity of a mill, where they mill 
the wheat, and four people were wounded by stones. It seems almost every 
time the bombs are fragmentation bombs, bombs that fall down, and they are 
razing the whole area with little or even big pieces, big as a hand or big as half 
of a tongue, pieces of iron. I have one with me that I extracted from a 
wounded man. There were two of them that had almost all the back and the 
legs full of pieces of wheat that had crossed the tissue [pierced the cloth]. The 
wounds were not too deep in general, but they were very dirty, because on the 
bottom of the wound you had the fabric of the clothes they were wearing, and 
then the wheat. They infected very quickly. In this area there was no military 
target." 41 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 27. 
Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 3 1 . 
Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 15. 


4.38 The jets and helicopters were reported to have returned on April 20, 1985, 
when they indiscriminately ("blindly") bombed the village of Amrakh, south of Zari. 
This bombardment reportedly used both fragmentation devices and rockets: 

"One rocket pierced a house, and the house collapsed. One child who was in 
the house died, six years old, his mother got a big piece of iron, it destroyed 
the whole elbow, two bones were broken. It has been cured now, she has a 
little bit stiff arm. It was a very bad wound. And a child, a daughter, about two 
years, had the buttocks ripped open. It was all meat, it was nicely ripped open, 
it was ugly ripped open with shrapnel in a bad place for a child like this. There 
were two men that had slight wounds. Also a piece of bomb, a piece of metal, 
little pieces somewhere on the back and on the shoulder, flesh wounds, but it 
was also civilians, no mujahidin wounded." 42 

4.39 Another bombardment was reported to have occurred on April 23, 1985, near 
the bazaar of the town of Zari. Part of a wheat field was burned by some kind of 
incendiary weapon that gave off white smoke. Two men were wounded by shrapnel 
from a fragmentation bomb, one badly enough that he would have died if the MSF 
team had not been there. As Seynaeve described the result of the fragmentation bomb: 
"Where a bomb falls, it makes a hole, and then all the trees are cut from down to up, 
like stairs all around the hole." 43 

4.40 The bombing continued the next day, April 24, 1985, with fragmentation 
bombs dropped near the hospital and bazaar of Zari. Seynaeve contrasted these 
"blind" bombings with one on May 30, 1985, when jets and helicopters hit three 
mujahidin bases very precisely, showing that the Soviet and government forces had 
the capacity to hit military targets if they chose to do so. 44 

4.41 Refugees from Qandahar province, in southern Afghanistan, interviewed in 
Quetta in October 1984 had similar stories to tell. 

"One and a half months ago [mid- August 1984] there were nine people in my 
village having breakfast, and a jet fighter bombed and killed them in their 
house. They were Nur Muhammad, five people from Musa Jan's family — his 
wife and children, aged from six months or a year to eight — a woman and two 
children. They are flying and doing this all the time without reason!" 45 

4.42 Another refugee from Qandahar described to Human Rights Watch how his 
two cousins, Shah Muhammad and Sardar Muhammad, sons of Muhammad Ismail of 
Qadir Khel village, Arghistan District, were killed the previous August by rockets 
from a helicopter while airing out beds in the courtyard of their home. 

42 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 15. 

43 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 15. 

44 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 15. 

45 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 28. Testimony of Abdullah Jan, twenty-two, a farmer from 
Dilawar Khan village, Arghandab District, Qandahar Province. 

page 46 

4.43 Arielle Calemjane, a nurse working for Aide Medicale Internationale, returned 
in July 1984 from four months in the area around the Panjshir Valley, in the 
mountains northeast of Shamali. In a written account of her journey, she explained 
that it had been impossible to carry out a medical mission because of constant 

"At four o'clock, the day breaks, and at five come the helicopters and 
airplanes in the sky. There seems to be some traffic today. ... On the road, 
entire families are climbing the sides of the valley. The children in the 
women's arms have such big, black eyes; they do not cry. The women covered 
in the chadri hide their faces; impossible to know what they think. The men go 
on foot, staring into the distance, searching for cover. . . . There were two dead 
this morning. Near the village where we found our bags ... the grass is 
tempting in the cool shadows of the trees. To sit is to fall asleep. But there is a 
rumbling nearby, too near, that wrenches me out of sleep, suddenly: the 
helicopters! . . . There are bombs exploding around us — what are they aiming 
at? There are a few houses nearby; the people are fleeing. I am seized by an 
uncontrollable trembling, prey to a feeling of total powerlessness against these 
black birds, these horrible black spots in the sky, these huge insects whose 
sound is the sound of hell and who sow destruction and death. . . . We are 
invited into the house where our bags are. . . . They tell us of a wounded man 
. . . who is there, on the floor, his hand wrapped in a bandage from which 
blood is dripping. . . . The helicopter fired while he was on horseback, holding 
a child in front of him. The bullet went through his left hand, and the child 
died. . . . We have to amputate three fingers down to the knuckle." 46 

4.44 Hafizullah, twenty-four, a farmer from Harioki Ulya in Kapisa Province, also 
northeast of Kabul, reported in the fall of 1984: 

"I left because of the condition of my region. Not only days, but even at nights 
they attack from three or four directions with rockets and artillery. They are 
bombing since last autumn so often, continuously, ten to fifteen planes at a 
time. One type of airplane, the MiG-25, is coming every day with five to ten 
bombs. They drop them on the residences, on the mosques, just to get rid of 
the people. Some of my relatives were killed, including some women." 47 

4.45 Muhammad Amin Salim, forty-three, former state prosecuting attorney from 
the Shamali plain north of Kabul, told Human Rights Watch in 1984: 

"The reason that I am here now is that in the region where I was there is great 
pressure from the Soviets. As an example, I had no place to put my family, 
because most of the region was destroyed. There were no more houses in 
Qarabagh-i Shamali. Ninety-nine percent of the houses are destroyed." 48 

4.46 Nicholas Danziger, quoted at the beginning of this chapter, described days of 
relentless bombing in the Herat area, in the far west, in June 1984: 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 33. 
Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 28. 
Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 29. 


"Every day they came to bomb. I was there at least two weeks, and I would 
say there were only five days that the planes didn't come. Sometimes they 
came once, sometimes twice; the helicopters often came three times. And not 
only that, there's also the shelling, which can last anything up to half an hour. 
It seems much longer at the time. And the people don't know how to build 
shelters. Every day mujahidin die, but if a mujahid has died you know that the 
people have died. And every day you heard the list, and it was one, two, four, 
three, six, this was mujahidin, but then the count of the people dying was 
always equivalent or greater. There were few occasions when there were fewer 
civilians dying than mujahidin. The people come down to work on their fields 
at night, women wash their clothes at night, bake the bread at night, and as 
there are no shelters, they hide under trees, just waiting, waiting." 49 

4.47 Abdul Wahid, a student whom Human Rights Watch met in Quetta, told a 
researcher in an interview on October 3,1984, of bombings and killings in Hazarajat, 
in Afghanistan's Central Highlands. 

"I came from Jalrez about ten days ago. When I was there, many air attacks 
were taking place. Every day the airplanes were flying in the area. When they 
failed to hit the military points, they bombed the bazaars and homes and the 
places where there was agricultural production. There were two 
bombardments in our village. They wanted to bomb the mujahidin, but 
couldn't, so they bombed the populated areas like houses and the bazaar, 
which caused some casualties. This was in Rasana and Jaghori, and also the 
valley of Tangi, about twenty days ago. Also in the center of Jaghori — every 
day there are helicopters flying in the area. In Behsud there was a recent 
offensive which caused about five hundred casualties, mostly women and 
children, about one and a half months ago. Ground forces came too, but most 
were killed by cannons." 50 

4.48 In a later report, Human Rights Watch confirmed that indiscriminate bombing 
and shelling continued through the early 1990s, if on a lesser scale. Human Rights 
Watch reported the following: 

(a) Helmand: In July 1987 Soviet/DRA forces bombed ten to twelve 
villages day and night, according to a medic who treated forty civilians. They 
were treated in an underground clinic, because an attack in early 1987 had 
destroyed the above-ground clinic, killing an unknown number of people. 51 

(b) Qandahar: On October 2, 1987, an artillery shell hit a bus carrying a 
wedding party, killing the bride, bridegroom, and another person during an 
exchange of artillery between the government and mujahidin. In another 
attack on a wedding party, several children were injured. In a pass northwest 

49 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 30. 

50 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 32. 

51 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict: Violations of the Laws of War in 
Afghanistan (New York: 1988) 18. 

page 48 

of Qandahar, jets dropped incendiary bombs that released twenty-five smaller 
bombs, often killing and injuring nomads in the area. 52 

(c) Nangarhar: Twenty-five to twenty-six people, including at least three 
children, were killed in Shewa district when a house was hit by a bomb in late 
1986. 53 Some of those killed were mujahidin, and about 120 mujahidin from a 
nearby base were eating in the village at the time. 54 

(d) Wardak: In September 1987 three villages were bombed in one day. 
Seven people were killed (including two women and four children) and forty- 
five injured, including a woman who later died. Civilians, including children, 
also died in a number of other bombing incidents, all of them in areas where 
there were no mujahidin and there was no fighting. 55 

(e) Ghazni: A village was bombed in mid- July 1987 the day after 
mujahidin transported twenty-seven Soviet prisoners through it. Seven people 
were killed and an eighteen-year-old girl severely injured. 56 

4.49 In early 1989, according to the UN Special Rapporteur, as the last Soviet 
troops were withdrawing, they covered their retreat with heavy bombardments: 

"The Soviet troop withdrawal has been hindered by repeated attacks by the 
opposition forces, resulting in much loss of civilian life and damage to 
property. One of the most striking incidents reported to have occurred 
towards the end of January 1989, which inflicted severe civilian losses, 
consisted in prolonged artillery attacks in the area around the Salang tunnel, 
north of Kabul, which allegedly claimed 600 civilian victims. According to 
Soviet sources, such military action on the part of Soviet troops was an act of 
self-defence on the part of the withdrawing forces and had no other purpose. 
Similar bombings resulting in heavy civilian losses have taken place in other 
areas, such as Kunar, Panjshir Valley, Parwan, Bamyan, Wardak, Nangarhar, 
and May dan [part of Wardak]." 57 

52 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 17-21. 

53 Because of differences of dialect and pronunciation, this area is variously called Shewa, Khewa, 
Shiva, and Khiva. We have used the standard Pashto spelling of Shewa for the area, whose inhabitants 
call it Khewa. 

54 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 22-24. 

55 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 24-25. 

56 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 18-25. 

57 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 989/24) para. 31. 


4.50 According to Human Rights Watch, these attacks made use of SCUD missiles, 
which reportedly killed seventy people in the village of Khenj. 58 

4.51 Human Rights Watch reported that during and following the battle for 
Jalalabad, from March 1989 through 1991, government forces continued to bombard 
civilian areas in Nangarhar province with weapons including SCUD missiles. Though 
mujahidin forces were in the area, according to Human Rights Watch, "If the 
principles of humanity and proportionality are to be observed, ... the existence of 
legitimate military targets in the area may not justify the kind of carpet-bombing that 
apparently took place." 59 Here are a few examples: 

(a) Jalalabad district, late 1989: "My husband died in the bombardment, 
buried under the house. It was difficult to recognize his body, it was so badly 
crushed. My daughter, Nafaz Gul, two years old, was also crushed under the 
house. In other houses, there were dismembered bodies of children and dead 
animals. . . . Some 45 people in all were killed, and more than that 
wounded. . . ." 60 

(b) Surkhrud, March 1989: "My brother-in-law was hit by a shell so big 
that he had no heart left; there was only a big hole in his body. My husband, a 
day laborer was also killed. . . . Two other relatives were killed. . . .One man 
working on the land was broken in two parts, a man named Akbar. The 
mosque was leveled and the mullahs died." 61 

(c) Surkhrud, mid- 1989, testimony of a widow: "My paternal uncle, his 
two sons, another uncle and two of my mother's brothers died in one mud 
house. In another house, five died: a mother, a daughter and three brothers." 62 

(d) Mimbaraq, Chaharbagh district, early 1990: A woman lost five sons 
and a four-year-old daughter in a bombardment. 63 

(e) Shewa district, March 1989: A woman lost seven family members, 
including her husband. "There was nobody to bury the dead 
afterwards. . . .The bombs left big craters. . . . Six or seven hundred came to 
Pakistan from our village." Others from Shewa described both bombs that 
created big craters and bombs that "scattered small bombs." One said, "There 
was no one to bury them; the dead bodies were eaten by dogs." 64 

58 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 28-29. The civilian casualties in these attacks were also reported 
by Soviet journalist Artyom Borovik, who accompanied the troops during their withdrawal: "Hundreds 
of Afghan women, children and old men were killed." See John Newhouse, "Chronicling the Chaos," 
The New Yorker . December 31, 1990: 57. 

59 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 3 1 . 

60 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 32. 

61 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 32. 

62 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 32. 

63 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 33. 

Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 3 1-34. 

page 50 

4.52 Human Rights Watch also reported bombardments in other areas in 1989 and 
1990, including in Faryab in the northwest and in Paghman, near Kabul. In most of 
these cases there was some military target in the vicinity, but the means used were 
indiscriminate and not proportionate, resulting in great human suffering. 65 

C. Reprisal Killings 

4.53 Soviet soldiers in Afghanistan found themselves in a terrifying and 
incomprehensible environment. When their comrades were killed, they often lashed 
out brutally at whoever was closest by. Sometimes they did so spontaneously and at 
other times reportedly under orders from their officers. They seemed to have received 
little if any training in the laws of war. One Soviet Afghan veteran described his 
conception of military duty this way: 

"I'm a soldier and killing's my profession. I'm like the slave of Aladdin's 
magic lamp, or rather the slave of the Defense Ministry. I'll shoot wherever 
I'm told to. When I hear the order 'Fire!' I don't think, I fire, that's my job." 66 

4.54 A private from a grenadier battalion told reporter Svetlana Alexievich: 

"We pointed our guns where we were told, and then fired them, exactly as 
we'd been trained, and I didn't care, not even if I killed a child. Everyone was 
part of it over there: men and women, young and old, kids. One time, our 
column was going through a kishlak [Afghan village] when the leading 
vehicle broke down. The driver got out and lifted the bonnet — and a boy, 
about ten years old, rushed out and stabbed him in the back, just where the 
heart is. The soldier fell over the motor. We turned that boy into a sieve. If 
we'd been ordered to, we'd have turned the whole village to dust." 67 

4.55 On another occasion, that is just what his unit did: 

"Our company was combing through a village. I was patrolling with another 
lad. He pushed open a hut door with his leg and was shot point-blank with a 
machine-gun. Nine rounds. In that situation hatred takes over. We shot 
everything, right down to the domestic animals. In fact, shooting animals is 
the worst. I was sorry for them. I wouldn't let the donkeys be shot — they'd 
done nothing wrong, had they? They had amulets hanging from their necks, 
exactly the same as the children. It really upset me, setting fire to that wheat- 
field— I ' m a country boy myself." 68 

4.56 A Soviet soldier told reporter Svetlana Alexievich in September 1986: 

"They killed my friend. Later I saw some of them laughing and having a good 
time. Whenever I see a lot of them together, now, I start shooting. I shot up 

Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 32-36. 
Aleksievich 112. 
Aleksievich 16-17. 
Aleksievich 76. 


an Afghan wedding, I got the happy couple, the bride and groom. I'm not 
sorry for them — I've lost my friend." 69 

4.57 A Soviet soldier using the pseudonym Pvt. Jamalbekov, who voluntarily 
deserted his unit, told Human Rights Watch in Peshawar on September 21, 1984, 
about a massacre he had witnessed on the road between Tashqurghan (formerly 
Khulm) and Mazar-i Sharif in April 1982 while stationed in Balkh Province with the 
122nd Brigade: 

"Besides our brigade's garrison, there was a special commando unit. The 
brother of the commander of the unit was a captain in the same unit. It was the 
birthday of the commander. They drank too much vodka. The captain took 
three soldiers and went to the town of Tashqurghan to get grapes and apples. 
When they went to the town, they were captured by the mujahidin. They were 
killed and then cut up and dropped in the water. When the drunk commander 
found out that his brother and three soldiers were killed by mujahidin, he took 
the whole commando unit at night. He went to the village and butchered, 
slaughtered all the village. They cut off the heads and killed perhaps two 
thousand people. The sun came out, and the mujahidin and others buried the 
people. I drove my APC [armored personnel carrier] there and saw the 
demolished houses. In the part destroyed by the commandos there was nobody 
living there. That's why I say it's a bad war, a dirty war." 70 

4.58 The actual number of deaths may have been fewer than "Jamalbekov" 

4.59 On November 1, 1985, The New York Times correspondent Arthur Bonner 
quoted from an interview with a Soviet soldier who had defected to the Afghan 
resistance and adopted the Moslem name of Ahmed: 

'"The Soviet troops can't find the mujahedeen so they kill civilians,' he said, 
adding: 'Our officers said we must go into a village and kill all the people and 
animals, sheep, horses, even dogs and cats. But I thought it was the 
mujahedeen who were fighting against us, not elderly people and dogs and 
cats.'" 71 

4.60 Professor Ermacora recorded such incidents: 

(a) "The Special Rapporteur was given information about an incident said 
to have occurred in mid- August 1986 in the village of Garabad, in Konduz 
Province, during which soldiers first invaded the village in retaliation to a 
skirmish with members of opposition movements and then executed 30 
persons, disemboweled a woman with a bayonet and cut off her breasts, and 
kicked several children to death. Several houses were destroyed and all 

69 Aleksievich 6. 

70 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 35. 

71 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 16; Arthur Bonner, interview with a Soviet 
soldier), The New York Times . November 1, 1985. 

page 52 

livestock killed. The witness claimed that he himself had lost 14 family 
members (three of whom had been killed by bayonets and 1 1 crushed under 
the rubble of their house, which had been destroyed by fire)." 72 

(b) "In one particularly horrible incident, several persons had their throats 
slit with knives. This incident took place in the village of Siyawachan, in 
Herat Province, in March 1986. Eleven persons were killed, with one survivor 
currently receiving medical treatment." 73 

4.61 Testimony in August 1985 from a former officer of the Interior Ministry in 
Kabul who was responsible for radio communications of some military units 
confirmed that the killing of civilians in reprisal was sometimes intentional. 

"When the mujahidin ambushed a convoy, we got certain orders. For example, 
one time when a convoy was coming through the Salang Pass [on the major 
highway from the Soviet Union to Kabul] in Parwan Province, the mujahidin 
took positions in villages above the convoy. So the mujahidin ambushed the 
convoy. When they shot at the helicopters over the convoy, they lost control, 
and the helicopters escaped. Then they send a message to the nearest air base 
to ask for help and also to the nearest brigade or military post. Then maybe ten 
to twenty helicopters and MiGs appear and troops move in about two hours 
and destroy completely all the villages in the area. [Afterward] in reports they 
mentioned, we killed twenty ashrar [bandits], thirty, even one hundred ashrar. 
They mentioned the ladies and children also. They were not saying separately 
the mujahidin and civilians or ladies and children. They were including any 
village giving help to the mujahidin. They would say thirty, fifty ashrar killed, 
including women and children, and 'we cleaned the area [manteqeh-ra pak 
kardim] from all ashrar.'" 74 

4.62 On June 30, 1983, in an incident widely reported in the French press and later 
raised with the Afghan government by Amnesty International, Soviet soldiers killed 
twenty-four people, including twenty-three unarmed civilians, in Rauza, a village on 
the outskirts of Ghazni. Patrice Franceschi, a freelance journalist working with 
Medecins du Monde, was nearby at the time, and he was able to interview villagers in 
detail a week after the event. 

(a) "The Soviet sweeping operations that had begun several days before 
reached Rauza on June 30. About 2 A.M., APCs encircled the village. There 
was no unit of the Afghan army with them. At dawn, the Russian soldiers left 
their vehicles, protected by helicopters, and began to search the village, street 
by street. 

(b) "An eighteen-year-old resistance fighter, Gholam Hazrat, was then at 
home with his weapon. The suddenness of the Russians' arrival had trapped 
him. Frightened, he hid himself at the bottom of the well in his family's 

A/41/778 (1986) para. 60. 
A/41/778 (1986) para. 62. 

Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 16. 


courtyard. Around 10 A.M., a six-man patrol, including one officer, broke 
down the door and began to search. 

(c) "The officer and one of his men soon leaned over the well. When he 
saw that he was discovered, the resistance fighter opened fire, killing the 
officer and wounding the soldier. He immediately died under the fire of the 
other Russian soldiers. 

(d) "This became the occasion for blind reprisals. The four remaining 
soldiers shot all the men in the house, the father, a cousin, and two uncles of 
Gholam Hazrat. Then they went out and assembled all the men they could find 
in the neighborhood, passersby, shopkeepers, etc. They were first beaten and 
robbed of any valuables (watches, money) before being summarily executed in 
the street. Twenty-three people were killed in this way." 75 

4.63 Franceschi collected the name, age, and profession of each victim and 
photographed the graves. 

4.64 While in Quetta in October 1984 Human Rights Watch learned of another 
reprisal killing near Qandahar from Habibullah Karzai, a paternal uncle of President 
Hamid Karzai. He told Human Rights Watch he had received several independent 
reports of the killing of members of his Popolzai tribe in Ghundaikan village, seven 
kilometers west of Qandahar, on September 27. 

"The village is near the Kandahar-Herat road. On either side of the highway 
there are grapes. After two or three vineyards, you reach the village. The 
mujahidin had mined the grape gardens with antipersonnel mines. When the 
Soviets started to cross the gardens, they hit the mines, and six or seven of 
them were killed. They rushed to the village and killed about fifty people, 
mostly children, old ladies, old people, and so on, because the young people 
ran away. They tried to escape. The Russians seized the area for three days. 
One lady was locked in a room with two children. The two children were 
killed — we don't know why — but the lady is still alive. I have the name of 
only one of the victims, Said Sikander. He was a poor man." 76 

4.65 The French doctors Frey and David told Human Rights Watch of a reprisal 
killing during the offensive in Logar in early September 1984. On September 10 the 
Soviet units that had occupied Baraki Barak District for four days were supposed to 
be reinforced by a convoy of the Afghan Army coming from Kabul. One of the 
Afghan Army officers, however, defected to the resistance with much of the convoy. 
The next day Soviet forces arrested forty civilians, according to Dr. David. 

"They tied them up and piled them like wood. Then they poured gasoline over 
them and burned them alive. They were old and young, men, women, and 

75 Les nouvelles cT Afghanistan 15 (December 1983) 5, cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 

76 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 40. 

page 54 

children. Many, many people were telling this story. They all said forty people 
had been killed." 77 

4.66 This story was confirmed on September 23, 1984, by an Afghan doctor in 
Peshawar, who had recently learned by letter that two of his relatives were among 
those burned to death in Logar. 78 

D. Massacres 

4.67 Professor Ermacora found that massacres of civilians in villages followed a 
systematic pattern as part of combined operations involving armor, infantry, or special 
forces, and sometimes air forces: 

"The testimony . . . gives a clear picture of the methods used in the conduct of 
village and house searches by government troops and foreign [Soviet] forces: 
after bombardment, tanks surround the villages during the evening; in the 
morning, troops enter the villages — each village at the same time — houses are 
searched, money is demanded, women and children in particular are 
questioned, usually concerning the whereabouts of the menfolk, and during the 
interrogation people are sometimes killed. After the withdrawal of the troops, 
they return once again shortly thereafter and begin the same search procedure. 
In this context, the Special Rapporteur obtained information on an incident 
which took place on 2 February 1985 in the village of Sandaly in Nangarhar 
province, where soldiers, after overrunning the village, executed 20 people, 
including 8 women, on the village square." 79 

4.68 Pvt. Vladislav Naumov, who served in a battalion specializing in punitive 
expeditions near Jalalabad, Nangarhar Province, described how he was trained to 
carry out such operations: 

"At Termez [Soviet Uzbekistan, just north of Mazar-I Sharif, across the Amu 
Darya] we built models of Afghan villages. Before every combat exercise, 
Major Makarov would constantly repeat: 'Look in the direction of the village: 
there are the dushmans. [ Dushman . the Persian word for enemy, was used by 
the Soviet military to refer to the Afghan insurgents.] Forward! Kill them! 
They kill completely innocent people.' And then the truly punitive operations 
would start. . . . Under the cover of the infantry's combat vehicles we would 
raze the village to the ground. Then, working under the scorching sun, we 
would rebuild the model, all over again. . . . We had bayonets and silencers 
attached to our rifles, and we learned to use them pretty skillfully. The major 
often repeated Suvorov's words: 'The bullet is a fool, the bayonet — a stalwart. 
Hit with the bayonet and try to turn it around in the body.'" 80 

4.69 These tactics became more common after the introduction of Soviet mobile 
special forces (spetsnaz) to Afghanistan in 1983, and they ceased after the Soviet 

77 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 40. 

78 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 40. 

79 A/40/843 (1985) para. 79. 

80 Radio Liberty Research Bulletin . March 19, 1984: 324. 


decision to withdraw. The available evidence places most of the mass killings of 
this type in areas of strategic importance, either the Eastern and Central zones, in the 
area between Pakistan and Kabul; the southern zone, where Qandahar was highly 
contested and was key to ground communications between Kabul and Herat; and the 
far northeast, on the Soviet border, which was one of two routes linking Kabul to the 

Logar Province (Central Zone) 

4.70 A massacre that took place in Logar Province in 1982 was documented by 
some Western observers. A commission of the Permanent People's Tribunal on 
Afghanistan — composed of Michael Barry, an Afghanistan expert; Ricardo Fraile, a 
specialist in international law; Dr. Antoine Crouan; and Michel Baret, photographer — 
documented a massacre of 105 persons in the village of Padkhwab-i Shana in Logar 
Province through on-site inspection and interviews with witnesses. 

4.71 Their report to the "People's Tribune" on Afghanistan (a successor to the 
"Russell Tribune" on Vietnam) stated: 

(a) "Soviet armored vehicles, hunting down modjahedin surrounded the 
village at 8 A.M. on September 13, 1982. Some of the fighters and villagers, 
including children, found refuge in a 'karez' (covered irrigation canal). The 
Soviet soldiers asked two old persons to enter the canal and summon the 
people to come out. Faced with the latter' s refusal, the old people came back 
up claiming there was nobody inside. 

(b) "According to an old person's eyewitness testimony, a tank truck was 
brought to pour a liquid, apparently oil, into the three openings of the karez. 
From another tank truck they poured a white-looking liquid to which they 
added the contents of a 100-pound bag of white powder. It was set on fire 
three times thanks to 'Kalashnikovs,' and each time there was a violent 

(c) "They protected their eyes and heads with helmets and shot their 
Kalashnikovs into the products, which exploded. Then they did the same thing 
at the other opening of the canal. When the fire and smoke had cleared, they 
started again with another hole. They stayed until 3 P.M. When they realized 
the operation had succeeded, they applauded and laughed as they left. 

(d) "The first day the population pulled out four bodies; the second day 30; 
the third, 68. Seven days later, the last three. When we touched the bodies, 
pieces would stay in our hands. The first day, when we wanted to pull out the 
victims, the unbearable stench made us feel sick. ... It is only with great 
difficulty that we were able to extract the maimed bodies: people could not 
even recognize their children or relatives. Whenever they were identified, it 
was thanks to watches, rings, and other objects they might be wearing" 82 

81 Maley, The Afghanistan Wars . 

82 Bureau International Afghanistan, "Afghanistan People's Tribunal, Stockholm: 1981-Paris: 1982; 
Selected Minutes from the Tribunal's Meetings," special issue of The Letter from the B.I. A . (Paris:, 

page 56 

4.72 This province near Kabul was the site of many more extra-judicial killings, on 
both a large and small scale. The Swedish journalist Borje Almquist traveled through 
Muhammad Agha district and other parts of Logar in December 1983. In a letter to 
Amnesty International, he presented statistics on killing, bombardment, looting, and 
destruction of agricultural infrastructure and food in nineteen villages of Muhammad 
Agha and seven other areas. 83 Almquist's accounts include Soviet soldiers executing 
unarmed men during searches, slitting the throat of a 5 5 -year old man with a bayonet 
and burning another alive. Almquist passed through whole villages that were deserted 
and looted. He learned of women shot and robbed of their jewelry. Throughout the 
area, the population had largely fled to Pakistan. Box 4.2 below presents the result of 
his study, which shows the wanton destruction of a peasant society. Dr. Ghazi Alam, 
a medical doctor originally from Muhammad Agha district, provided nearly identical 
accounts of events in the same place and during the same period when he was 
interviewed by Human Rights Watch in New York on March 30, 1984. 84 

1983) 15. 

83 Borje Almqvist, Letter to Amnesty International, Eskilstuna, Sweden, April 19, 1984. 

84 Helsinki Watch, Tears Blood, and Cries 27-28. 

page 57 

Box 4.2. Results of a Survey by Borje Almquist of Villages in Muhammad Agha District, Logar Province in December 1983 












30 families 



70 families 

August 23, 1982 
— 17 people 
killed and 8 

64 families 


20 families 

20 families 

Bombardments in 


Dauran Khel 


25 families 

August 24, 1982 — 1 
house destroyed 

6 families 





5,000 civilians 





15 families 

October 2, 1983—5 
houses destroyed 

October 2, 1983—12 sheep 

10 families 

October 2, 1983— 
4 helicopters and 4 

bombarded village 

7 families to Pakistan 
(1982), 1 to Kabul and 2 to 
other villages (1983) 



36 families 

August 23, 1982—5 
houses destroyed; 
September 3, 19S3 — 4 
houses destroyed 

3 donkeys 

1 woman killed; 1 
woman wounded 

36 families (4 
in 1982, 32 in 


18 families to other villages, 
6 to Kabul, 12 to Pakistan 


300 families 

240 families 

Village fired on by 
tanks and 

50 families to Pakistan, 40 
to Kabul, and 150 to other 

page 58 

Box 4.2. Results of a Survey by Borje Almquist of Villages in Muhammad Agha District, Logar Province in December 1983 












October 1983; 
November 1 1 , 
1983; December 6, 

40 families 

November 11, 1983 — radios, 
carpets, private property, 2 cows 
stolen; December 6, 1983 — 
many women robbed of jewelry 
and one man had 1 8 boxes each 
containing 42 kilos of apples 

1 woman shot on 
her doorstep 

9 families 

5 families to Pakistan, 4 to 
other villages 

Kalai Ahmad 

June 1983 

30 families 

5 houses 

Houses of families that fled 

7 families 

Bombs and rockets 
from helicopters; 
12,7 machine guns 

Kabul and Pakistan 

Kalai Shah 


20 families 

1 family 



April 4, 1983; 
September 1983 

16 families 

April 4, 1983—4 
houses; September 1983 
— apartment complex 
housing 6 families 

September 1983 — mosque 

16 families (4 
in April 1983 
and the rest in 
Summer 1983) 



Summer 1982- 
oeptemDer iyoj 

30 families 

September 13, 1984—4 
family compounds 

September 18, 1983— village 
looted, ieptemDer u, lyoj — i 
donkey and 8 cows killed 

September 18, 
i yoj — l men 
executed with 
AK-47's and 1 
man burned alive; 
September 13, 
1983 — 4 women, 
3 men, and 1 
child killed 

25 families 


4 families to Pakistan and 
2 1 to other villages 



1982 — several houses 

Families whose 
homes were 



page 59 

Box 4.2. Results of a Survey by Borje Almquist of Villages in Muhammad Agha District, Logar Province in December 1983 












November 16, 
1983; December 6, 

December 6, 1983— Soviet 
soldiers looted homes and stole 
items such as food, radios, 
sewing machines, watches, and 
household utensils 

6 total — 3 on 
November 16, 
1983 and on 
December 6, 1983 

1 man's throat slit, 
3 men on 

December 6, 1983, 
were strapped to a 
tank and blown up 
by an electric mine 

Momor Hotel 

October 1982 

10 families 

Houses bombarded and 
fired upon 

Hotel, 6 shops 



Autumn 1982- 
Autumn 1983 

38 families 

Autumn 1982— Some 
houses leveled; May 25, 
1983 — large compound 

October 20, 1983—8 houses 
looted and jewelry stolen 

31 families 

May 25, 1983 — 
October 19, 1983 
— village fired on 
by rockets from 4 
helicopters for 10 

1 5 families to Pakistan, 6 to 
Kabul, 10 to other villages 



10 families 

4 families 



November 1983 

15 families 

9 families 



October 1982 

30 families 

6 houses destroyed 

15 shops, 1 mill; shops looted 
before destroyed 

Bulldozers, rockets 
from helicopters 


October 1983; 
December 6, 1983 

60 families 

December 6, 1983—1 
house bombarded and 
others looted 

May 1 980 — gardens and fields 

54 families 

Pakistan and other nearby 


Summer 1982- 
Autumn 1983 

20 families 

July 1983 — several 
houses damaged 

Summer 1 982 — an apple 
orchard where people were 
hiding was bombarded; July 
1983 — mosque destroyed 

September 18, 
1 983 — one man 

20 families 

Machine gunfire, 
rockets from 

8 families to Pakistan, 12 to 
other villages 


Spring 1982- 
Autumn 1983 

36 families 

April 4, 1982 — 1 man robbed of 
50,000 afghanis; August 28, 
1982—14 sheep killed 

30 families 

August 28, 1982 — 
village fired upon 
by rockets from 

10 families to Pakistan, 4 to 
Kabul, and 1 6 to other 

page 60 

Box 4.2. Results of a Survey by Borje Almquist of Villages in Muhammad Agha District, Logar Province in December 1983 












15 families 

13 families 

Never bombarded 

Surchaub area 

1 OQO 1 OC1 

lyoz— tysj 

i,uuu iamilies 
in 7 villages 

uecemuer J, lyoj — ij 
houses destroyed in the 
village of Darra 

uecemDer zz, lyaz — village ot 
Sarlakala was looted 

December 22, 
1982— on man 
executed in 
December 3, 1983 
— 8 men, 5 
women, and 3 
children wounded 
in Darra 

700 families 

Area bombarded 
every month from 
1979; in August 
1982 the villages 
of Kopak, Mathan, 
and Ghautjai were 
bombarded 3 times 


December 1983 

December 19, 1983 — 
several houses damaged 

Source: Borje Almquist, Unpublished Letters, 1984. 


Nangarhar Province (Eastern Zone) 

4.73 In September 1984, villagers who had just arrived in Peshawar from Batikot 
District, Nangarhar Province, told Human Rights Watch researchers, "Twenty days 
ago the Russians bombed our villages — Bela, Mushwani, and Lachapur — and 120 
people died." 85 They showed Human Rights Watch a six-year-old boy with shrapnel in 
his leg from the bombing. "On August 27 the Russians came at 4 A.M. When they 
reached the village they started killing people. After they finished in Lachapur and 
Mushwani, they went to Bela. There were 130 killed. They killed them with 
Kalashnikovs and with bombs from airplanes." 86 According to one refugee, in one 
family headed by Muhammad Umar fifteen people were killed outside their home at 
4:00 A.M. 87 A woman from Bela said: 

"T lost my mother, father, and five children. The Russians came to the village, 
and the mujahidin were there. The fighting was hard. After the fighting the 
Russians came into the village and killed the people. They came into my house 
and wanted money. They accused us of being from America. My husband and 
I ran to the mountains, but I could not take five of my children with me, only 
these three. We spent five days in the mountains without food and water. We 
went back to the village and saw the tents were burned. I found my five 
children dead in the house. There were 140 people killed, including my 
parents and sisters. I don't know how the days become nights and the nights 
become days. I've lost my five children. Russian soldiers do these things to 
me.' (Her five dead children were Muhammad Shams, seven; Shams-ul-Haq, 
eight; Najibullah, ten; Naqibullah, fourteen; and Al-Hamula, fifteen.)" 88 

4.74 Professor Ermacora also reported killings in Lachapur, at a later date (January/ 
February 1985). He reported that "dogs were used to attack men in a massacre in 
which about 100 civilians were killed." 89 

4.75 Refugees reported another massacre in Nangarhar in the spring of 1985, in 
Surkhrud district, a densely populated irrigated area south of Jalalabad. As described 
by Professor Ermacora in his summary of the standard procedure of such operations, 
Soviet forces surrounded the area at night. Troops came into the village of Fatihabad, 
where they blew open the gates of houses with grenades, killed livestock (nine horses 
and some cows), and searched for weapons and ammunition while looting anything of 
value. The witness estimated that they looted 1,100 houses. At approximately 1 
A.M. the soldiers began to kill people, including six men watering their fields in the 

85 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 3 1 . 

86 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 3 1 . 

87 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 3 1 . Testimony of Rahmatullah, a farmer from Bela village, 
Nangarhar Province. 

88 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 3 1 . Testimony of wife of Muhammad Kabir of Bela village, 
Nangarhar Province. 

89 E/CN.4/1 986/24 para. 95. 

page 62 

cool of the night by lamplight, and a number of other civilians. The witness reported 
that the soldiers placed the bodies of slain women, children, and old people with the 
slaughtered cattle. Mujahidin arrived, and a battle took place in the morning. Several 
people were killed in circumstances that are unclear, including commander 
Muhammad Idris, said to have been killed while praying in a mosque; Haji Nurani, 
son of Mirajuddin, a religious scholar; Mullah Buzurg, who was reported to have been 
bayoneted in the mosque, where his books were also burned; Qiamuddin, bayoneted 
while sleeping; and Tor, the twenty- to twenty-two-year old son of Qiamuddin, who 
tried to resist. A woman cousin of Tor, Bibi Nisa, wife of Anar Gul, who was 
visiting, was shot in the breast, and her son, Abdul Sattar, was reportedly bayoneted in 
her arms. At 2 P.M. that afternoon fourteen MiGs arrived, according to the witness, 
and thirty-five more horses were killed in the fields. The aircraft dropped thirty-nine 
incendiary ("napalm") bombs and destroyed many houses and shops. They fired 
rockets to burn the fields and orchards. The villagers fled, and, according to one, 
"When we came back to the village, there were many calves, chickens all killed, and 
most of the houses were destroyed. In my village we found thirty corpses cut into 
pieces, and the people could not even tell which were women and which were men. 
Some of them were cut up by bombs, and some by bayonets." 90 

4.76 Five orphan boys about ten years old from Fatihabad described other details of 
the killings there: 

(a) "When they were shelling Fatihabad village, my father was sitting near 
the cow shed, and he was martyred there by the BM-13. Then the Russians 
entered the village, burned the houses of mujahidin, looted their property, and 
they killed some other people also in the village with machine guns, rifles, 
bayonets. [Names of victims were] Abdul Nabi, Mahmud, Ghaffar, Mullah 
Imam Gul. [He estimated their ages at forty, seventy, seventy, and ninety.] The 
daughter of my mother's brother, Chata Gul, was killed [aged sixteen], and 
Khan Lala, son of my mother's sister [fourteen]." 91 

(b) "At night my father was going to the flour mill with a donkey. The 
area was surrounded by the Russians, and they killed my father on the way. He 
was shot and they also used bayonets. He had seventeen bayonet wounds in 
his body. Abdullah, my mother's brother, about fifty, was killed. So was 
Zalmay [twenty-two], and Shal [eighteen]." 92 

(c) "My father had a shovel, and he was going to the bazaar. The Russians 
were there, and they hit him with a grenade." 93 

90 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 25. Testimony of Said Muhammad, son of 
Jan Muhammad, forty-one, farmer, Fatihabad village, Surkhrud District, Nangarhar Province; 
interviewed in Panyian refugee camp, Haripur, NWFP, August 23, 1985. 

91 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 27. Testimony of Nurullah, son of Abdul 
Malik; his younger brother, Dil Lala, was also present. 

92 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 27. Testimony of Yusuf Khan, son of Juma 

93 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 27. Testimony of Hasan Khan, son of Akbar 
Khan; boys interviewed in Panyian refugee camp, August 23, 1985. 


4.77 The fifth boy was Nurullah, son of the ' alim . Haji Nurani, whose death was 
mentioned above. He testified: 

"The Russians came and they stabbed my father with a bayonet. The Russians 
came and landed the troops before nighttime. Then at nighttime they came to 
the house. My father was asleep, and we were asleep also, and they came and 
stabbed him with a bayonet. My uncle Qiamuddin [the same Qiamuddin 
mentioned above] was killed. Also Abdul Halim, Idris [same as Mohammad 
Idris, mentioned above]; Qaisi, my uncle's son, Lai, son of my uncle; 
Qiamuddin' s daughter. Qiamuddin' s daughter was also injured. Abdul Malik's 
wife was also killed with bayonets." 94 

4.78 Tila Bibi, the wife of Akbar Khan, recounted the events in Fatihabad as 

"When the Russians came we fled from the house, my children and I. My 
husband was running too. The Russians threw a grenade at him, and he died. 
Eight people from my family were martyred, my husband's brothers, their 
sons, cousins, and other people. They looted my house and then they burned it. 
When the Soviets came first they turned on a light, something they put up in 
the sky so it was just like daylight, something they shoot up in the sky. Then 
they took the people out of their houses and cut their throats or killed them 
with bayonets, Kalashnikovs, looted the houses, killed the animals. My 
husband's brain was coming out, he had lost his hand, lost his leg. When I was 
running away, I saw them cutting the people's throats." 95 

94 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 27. 

95 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 28. Interviewed in Panyian refugee camp, 
August 23, 1985. 

page 64 

Laghman Province (Eastern Zone) 

4.79 According to several separate sources, Soviet soldiers killed between 500 and 
1,000 civilians during an offensive in several districts of Laghman Province in March 
and April of 1985. 96 Professor Ermacora interviewed survivors of this massacre soon 
after. He described it as follows: 

"From 11 to 18 March 1985, approximately 1,000 civilians were allegedly 
killed by army elements assigned to carry out reprisal operations against 12 
villages in Laghman province, Qarghai district. In the course of these 
operations, livestock was decimated, houses plundered and set on fire, women 
raped and some of them summarily executed, and several children locked up 
in a house were burnt to death." 97 

4.80 The other accounts give dates about a month after those given by Professor 
Ermacora, possibly due to error in translating the Afghan calendar into the 
international one. This event was noteworthy not only for the number of victims and 
the cruelty with which many were killed, but also for the use of a weapon, apparently 
a phosphorus bomb, which refugees described as an intense light that burned people 
to death at close range but lost its effectiveness with distance. 98 

4.81 According to the account published by Human Rights Watch, around April 8 
Soviet troops secured the Kabul- Jalalabad highway where it passes through Kats sub- 
district on the southern border of Laghman. A column of troops then moved north and 
split, half occupying the region around the provincial capital and half occupying 
Qarghai District. The troops then attacked the villages. After subduing some scattered 
armed resistance, they entered villages throughout the area, destroyed crops and 
livestock, killed whole families at a time (including children reported to have been 
bayoneted or burned alive), looted houses of all valuable objects, and then withdrew. 99 
A witness described the following scenes as villagers attempted to bury the dead: 

96 Five hundred is the low estimate of civilian deaths during this offensive. Some estimates place the 
total closer to one thousand. In a report published in 1985 (Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in 
Afghanistan ). Human Rights Watch stated that it used the following sources in reconstructing events in 
Laghman: Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin , nos. 49 and 51, April and June 1985; "The 
April Massacres of Laghman," testimony of Jalad Khan, functionary of the cultural department of the 
alliance of traditionalist or moderate resistance parties, edited and translated by Abdul Karim Muheb, 
Peshawar University; "Transcript of Interviews with Refugees from Laghman Province, Afghanistan, 
Munda Camp, North- West Frontier Province, Pakistan, 5/16/85," interviews by Syeed Farhad, 
translation by Sher M. Etibari; Rob Schultheis, video and audio tape furnished to Human Rights Watch 
by Rosanne Klass of Freedom House and by the Congressional Task Force on Afghanistan; and 
interviews that a Human Rights Watch researcher conducted with refugees from various villages of 
Laghman in Munda camp, NWFP, Pakistan, on August 21, 1985, and in Panyian camp, NWFP, 
Pakistan, on August 23, 1985. In 2003, volunteers working for the AIHRC in the area collected new 
information on the massacre. The information collected by AIHRC was translated and is available in 
the following document: Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), "Report of 
Laghman Province by Transitional Justice Section, Qarghew District," Eastern Provinces (Kabul: 
Transitional Justice Section, August 2003). 

97 A/40/843 (1985) para. 79, and Appendix I. 

98 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 29. 

Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 29. 


"At noon, the Russians started to move out, and we began collecting the 
bodies of the martyrs. Many people we could not recognize, because the heads 
had been cut off, faces crushed by beating. I found my cousin, who was a 
teacher, at first, I could not recognize him. In each house we found 2 or 3 
bodies. They had killed almost everybody. We went up into the Sheikh 
Mahmud Farindar area of the mountains, and there we found 14 more martyrs 
— some without clothes, they had been killed naked, or burned alive, the 
clothes burned off them. As we carried the bodies down, the Russians saw us 
and began firing BM-13 rockets, we brought the bodies to the village. . . . The 
Russians said, 'You are Muslims, believing in God — call your God to come 
and save you from death. Where is your God, and how is he?' And the people 
said, 'We believe in God, and whatever happens is God's will' And the 
Russians killed them too." 100 

4.82 Box 4.3 provides the list of casualties by village compiled by Professor Sayd 
B. Majrooh's Afghanistan Information Centre and compares them to the lists of 
localities mentioned and total casualties estimated by Professor Ermacora and the 
Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. 

4.83 Besides these killings, mainly in Qarqhai district, there were also several 
consistent testimonies of mass killing of the inhabitants of Shalatak village near the 
provincial center of Laghman. According to a witness quoted by Human Rights 
Watch, "At the small village in Shalatak all the inhabitants were executed; a small girl 
was the only survivor. The people were burned with petrol. It was impossible to 
identify their bodies." 101 One witness estimated that about 150 civilians lost their lives 
in this attack. Another gave the total as seventy-four. According to these witnesses, 
women were raped and summarily executed. At Shalatak, according to this account, 
Soviet soldiers threw hand grenades into a house where twenty-seven women and 
children had shut themselves up and then set it on fire; all the occupants were burned 
to death. When neighbors tried to dig the victims from the rubble, they found the 
corpses disintegrating, and a religious leader ruled that these "martyrs" should be left 
buried where they died, in accordance with shari'a. Nearby the witness found the 
corpse of a young mother with a dead child attempting to suckle her breast. 102 

100 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 29. Testimony of refugees from Qarghai 
District; unpublished interview with Rob Schultheis. 

101 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 28. 

102 Testimonies cited in Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan , citing Afghan 
Information Centre Monthly Bulletin 51. June 1985: 2-6. 

page 66 

Box 4.3. Casualties of Massacre in Laghman, 1985/1364 









72 children, women, and elders 



50, plus 100 cattle 


Haider Khan 

Qarghai, Korgai? 


Pul-i Jogi 




L 35 


Androo Safoo Khail 





Gala Khail 







Aoreeam Zai 








Char Bagh 

35, also houses and the bazaar set 

on fire 


9 elders executed 

Ahmadzai Qila 



Kamal Poor 


Qala-i Rahim 




Pacha Qila 


Hood Khail 

Farman Khail 

Karim Abad 


Bolan Mia Khail 

Mullah Khail 

Kace Aziz Khan 

Bala Bagh 


Total killed 




Sources: Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin, no. 51. June 1985. pp. 5-6; A/40/843. Appendix I; 

Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC). Eastern Provinces Regional Office. Laghman 

Province. Oarghew district. . 

4.84 Witnesses at the time described groups of 25-50 Soviet commandos, 
consistent with the operation of spetsnaz. 103 The AIHRC sources described teams of 
Afghan military guides accompanying the Soviet troops. 104 One witness claimed that 
the Soviets killed even Afghans who claimed loyalty to the regime: 

"As the rest of the civil population had fled, there were not enough hands to 
collect the bodies and bury them; mujahidin groups did the job. After the 

103 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 30. Testimony of Jamruz, son of Abdul 

104 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 30; AIHRC files. 


Russians' departure, an Afghan army unit came and dug ditches for the 
remaining bodies. The Kabul officials tried to convince the people that only 
Russians were responsible for the massacre. They promised food, blankets and 
shelter; but there were not many people to listen to them. . . . The Russian 
commandos were groups of 20, 25 or 50 men with a leader. . . . Persons 
knowing how to read and write were brought by the Russians in front of their 
leaders who killed the prisoners with one shot of a pistol on the forehead. 
Local teachers who shouted their sympathies with the Kabul regime, even 
people producing membership cards in the Communist Party organizations, 
were not spared. All had it. A few Party activists and Afghan army officers 
tried to resist; the Russians killed some of them and sent the rest in armored 
cars to their military headquarters." 105 

Kunar Province (Eastern Zone) 

4.85 In March 1986 a massacre took place at Darra-i Nur in Kunar Province, some 
twenty-five kilometers north of the city of Jalalabad. The massacre was documented 
by the Afghan Information Centre in its monthly bulletin, number 61 (April 1986); in 
reports prepared by Abdul Karim Muheb, a former official of the Afghan Ministry of 
Justice; and in testimonies by refugees whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in 
Yakhagundh refugee camp outside Peshawar in September 1986. 106 

4.86 Darra-i Nur is a large and once densely populated valley, inhabited mainly by 
the members of the Pashai ethnic group. It had been under the control of the 
mujahidin for most of the war. On March 9, 1986, Russian artillery began an attack 
on villages named by the Afghan Information Centre as Barkot, Duderak, Kashmand 
Qala, Janshegal, and Waigal. According to the Afghan Information Centre, the 
mujahidin fought back and killed about twenty-eight Soviet soldiers. Thirty villagers 
were also killed. In what the Afghan Information Centre interpreted as a reprisal, the 
Soviet forces then attacked Sotan and Char Qala villages on March 13. They killed 
four villagers and injured two. One report claimed that they encountered no 
resistance, but a witness who was there claimed that guerrilla operations continued, 
leading to a further Soviet offensive. 107 

4.87 On March 19, Soviet forces attacked the areas of Bamba Kot, Sheram Qala, 
and Umar Qala. Nur Beg, a village elder who had a list of 180 victims who had died, 
told Human Rights Watch researchers how the villages were destroyed: 

(a) "The Russians had dropped paratroopers in the mountains in the 
middle of the night, on both sides of the valley. They entered the village by 
foot. The mountains were full of paratroopers. The people didn't know 
because they came at night, silently. In the morning planes also came, jets and 
helicopters. Guns began firing at the villages. The villages were unprotected. 

105 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 30. Testimony of Jamruz, son of Abdul 

106 Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 22-25. 

107 Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 22. Testimony of Toryalai Rokyani, supplied to Human Rights 
Watch by Muheb. 

page 68 

The mujahidin were far away. It was only Russians that came, with a few 
Parchami guides. 

(b) "The people ran to the mountains where the mujahidin were. The 
villages were completely destroyed. Most of the bodies were under the debris. 
It took six days to dig them out. The burning continued for forty days from 
napalm bombs with delayed action." 108 

4.88 They destroyed 150 houses, seventy being burned and the rest shelled. They 
also reportedly set fire to the Friday mosque of Bamba Kot, where forty-three 
civilians of all ages were killed. On March 25, the Soviet forces moved on to an 
adjacent area and attacked the areas of Sotan Qila, Majgandol, and Qutran. A witness 
claimed that they burned thirteen people to death in the mosque of Sotan Qila while 
they were saying morning prayers. The mujahidin had apparently fled the area, and 
the Soviets encountered no resistance. They then began to search and loot houses, 
summarily executing some of the occupants. Among the dead was a man named 
Haikal Khan who claimed to be 150 years old, and Mu'inuddin, seventy. 
Mu'inuddin's year-and-a-half old granddaughter was also killed. A blind old lady, 
Baktawara, and her blind twelve-year-old granddaughter were both killed with 
bayonets. According to the witness, the soldiers were also bayoneting a fifteen-year- 
old boy named Malang when his mother tried to save him by throwing herself across 
him. The soldiers killed both with Kalashnikov fire, poured kerosene over the bodies, 
and burned them. 109 

4.89 The reports claimed that Soviet forces burned more than two hundred houses. 
Survivors recovered the bodies of eighty civilians from the rubble of burned houses, 
while other victims were left buried in the debris. The Afghan Information Centre 
listed the names of more than sixty victims of the massacres. 

4.90 Human Rights Watch researchers met two young women from Umar Qala, the 
widows of Sayyid Jamal, who was killed in the massacre. In addition to his two 
wives, Jamal left five sons and two daughters. The senior wife described the 

"In the night they occupied the mountains near the village. At dawn they came 
down and entered the village. They entered the houses. Some people escaped, 
some were in the mosque. Our husband was inside the house. He was taken 
out by them. His hands were tied behind his back. They took him to the dry 
river bed and shot him. He was alone. We heard that the other men were lined 
up and machine-gunned. The village was full of people and many did not 
escape. I didn't see any Afghans there, only Russians." 110 

4.91 Dindar, a farmer from Umar Qala, lost three daughters during the March 

Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 23. 
Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 23. 
Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 24. 


"Our house was outside the main village. The Russians came in the night and 
were hiding. We were in the house, in the early morning, in the dawn. There 
was firing and we couldn't go out. My daughters were killed by mortar that 
came into the house. My wife survived. My house was destroyed. The village 
was half-destroyed. We came here to escape the Russians." 111 

4.92 Dindar's daughters killed in the attack were Zaw Jan (twelve years old), Basri 
Jan (eight years old), and Marjanbame (six years old). 

4.93 Ghaffar Khan, about twelve years old, told Human Rights Watch about the 
attack on Sotan village. When the attack began, he started running with his father and 
grandfather. As they ran, they were ambushed. His father was killed. "Many others 
were killed also." 112 

Kunduz Province (Northeast Zone) 

4.94 There are reports of a series of massacres of civilian villages in different parts 
of Kunduz province from late December 1984 through the first half of 1985. This 
province, on the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, stood astride one of the 
two main roads from the Soviet border to Kabul and was the center of Afghanistan's 
cotton production. 

4.95 Special Rapporteur Ermacora's list of "incidents" during January-August 
1985 included "mass killings of civilians" in Chardara district of Kunduz on January 
30 and February 15, 1985. 113 Human Rights Watch also received detailed, 
independent reports of these massacres in Chardara from three sources: 114 Dr. Juliette 
Fournot of Medecins sans Frontieres, who met the survivors in Paktia Province as she 
was returning from a medical mission inside Afghanistan and they were on the way to 
Pakistan; Abdul Karim Muheb of Peshawar University, who had interviewed a 
witness; and the survivors themselves, interviewed in a Pakistani refugee camp. The 
three accounts differ somewhat on the exact dates of the events. Professor 
Ermacora's list indicated that two separate massacres occurred in the area, and the 
events may be conflated. In addition, all dates given here were presumably converted 
from dates given by witnesses in the Afghan Islamic solar calendar, a process that 
sometimes gives rise to errors. 

4.96 According to the reports examined by Human Rights Watch, on December 14, 
1984, Soviet forces entered the Issa Khel area of Chardara District, Kunduz, and 
began searches in several villages. According to the sources cited by Human Rights 
Watch, the Soviets looted houses, destroyed foodstuffs, burned cotton crops, raped 
women, and killed a number of villagers. 115 Fearful of being ambushed, Soviet 
soldiers followed the common practice of tossing grenades into houses before 

111 Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 24. 

112 Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 25. 

113 A/40/843 (1985), appendix 1. 

114 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 25. 

115 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 25. 

page 70 

searching them. One witness stated that his uncle Janan was killed and other family 
members seriously injured when three grenades were thrown into his house. 116 

4.97 Resistance fighters in the area reacted by ambushing the Soviet column on its 
way back to its base in Kunduz city, inflicting some light damage. On Sunday, 
December 22, 1984, Soviet troops, accompanied by a few PDPA members or Afghan 
military personnel, encircled the nearby village of Haji Rahmatullah at 10 or 1 1 
A.M.. 117 According to all of the independent testimonies collected by Human Rights 
Watch, the Soviet forces appeared to try to kill everyone in the village. Dr. Juliette 
Fournot of Medecins sans Frontieres summarized the story: 

"They [Soviet troops] entered systematically in all the houses, executing all 
the inhabitants, including women and children, often by shooting them in the 
head. Three pregnant women were eviscerated [with bayonets]. Fire was set to 
the houses, and the flames continued to burn for 5 days. The troops also took 
with them all items of value and money, which the people offered them hoping 
to be spared, without managing to save a single life in this manner." 118 

4.98 An engineering graduate and farmer from the village escaped and watched the 
attack from afar. He and other young men later returned. "When we reached the 
village [after the Soviets had left]," he said, "we were shocked to find that not a single 
human being had survived." 119 

4.99 Another man who escaped also described the aftermath: 

"It was winter time, damp and very chilly. Every family's members were shot 
along with their small children while sitting by the heaters inside the rooms. 
Most of them were killed while still in sitting positions around their fireplaces 
[bukhari, a kind of stove]. We saw many of the ladies holding their babies 
tight in their bosoms, both being shot together. In most of the cases many 
people were brought into one house and then the place was hand grenaded and 
fired [burned]. Hundreds of those martyrs remained under great piles of clay 
[the principal building material] unseen and untouched. When we started to 
take them out of the dust and ashes no one was able to recognize his or her 
relatives. In most of the cases just burned bodies were coming out. Those with 
no survivor left behind remained under the piles. Green banners [of 

116 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 18. Testimony of Muhammad Jan, son of 
Lai Jan, provided by Abdul Karim Muheb. 

117 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 26. Muhammad Tahir, a forty-year- old 
graduate of the Kabul University Engineering Faculty and son of the village headman (arbab), 
attributed the massacre to the villagers' past activities: "The mujahidin of this village had attacked the 
Soviets many times. They even captured a Russian general and executed him six months before, so 
they came to take their revenge." Muhammad Tahir, interview in Panyian refugee camp, Haripur, 
NWFP, Pakistan, August 23, 1985. 

118 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch , To Die in Afghanistan 19. Report of Dr. Juliette Fournot, written 
June 3, 1985, Peshawar. 

119 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 19-20. Testimony of Muhammad Tahir, 
forty, farmer and graduate of Kabul University engineering faculty; interviewed in Panyian refugee 
camp, Haripur, NWFP, August 23, 1985. 


martyrdom] were erected on houses or rooms where the dead were lying under 
the razed walls." 120 

4. 100 One who escaped listed some victims. 

"My mother, my brother, my mother's brother, and all eight members of my 
family were killed, including girls, boys. They were firing with Kalashnikov 
and Kalakov and they used bayonets too. [Those killed were] my mother, Ayat 
Gul; my brother Abdul Sami; Abdul Ahad, my uncle; my uncle's wife, Bibi 
Gul; my uncle's daughters, Safia and Maria; and Muhammad Hakim, my 
uncle's one-year-old son. Safia was two years old and Maria was three. They 
killed all four members of my uncle's family at once with bullets. Our 
neighbors, Muhammad Akbar, his wife, his mother, and his one-year-old son 
were killed. My own family, I saw them when they were killing my family, I 
saw with my own eyes, because I was hiding myself in the house. The others I 
didn't see myself when they were killed, but I took them to the graveyard. In 
one house of our neighbors twenty-three people were killed. They were all 
living in the same house, uncles and nephews, all in one house. And thirteen 
members of another family were killed, the head of the family was named 
Jawlan." 121 

4.101 Interviewed by Human Rights Watch in a refugee camp in Pakistan in August 
1985, this witness, Muhammad Tahir, with the help of some village elders who were 
also present, listed the other heads of households in the village and gave the number 
killed from each family. His estimate, amounting to a total of 225 victims, is 
reproduced in Box 4.4. 122 

Box 4.4. Estimate of Casualties in Massacre of Haji Rahmatullah Village, 
Chardara District, Kunduz, January 1985 





Sultan Murad 


Abdul Rasul 


Hayat Murad 


Ali Mohammad 






Abdul Aziz 


Amir Mohammad 


Pacha Qol 

1 (his wife) 





Gholam Hazrat 


Abdul Majid 


Mohammad Yusuf 






120 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 20. Testimony of Muhammad Jan. 

121 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 20-21. Testimony of Muhammad Tahir, 
forty, farmer and graduate of Kabul University engineering faculty; interviewed in Panyian refugee 
camp, Haripur, NWFP, August 23, 1985. 

122 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 21. 

page 72 


1 £ 


1 A 


Khal Murad 


Gol Mohammad 






Total killed 


Source: Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch. To Die in Afghanistan 21. 

4. 102 Niyaz Turdi, a Turkmen who had settled in the area in search of work, recently 
recalled the same scene in an interview with authors Alex Klaits and Gulchin 
Gulmamadova. He described an attack on the village by "about 20 tanks and 
hundreds of Soviet and Afghan troops," followed by "a couple dozen Soviet 
helicopters," that "started carpet-bombing the village. For about an hour, the ground 
shook like we were in the midst of an earthquake, even though we were a couple of 
miles away from the village under attack. When we looked up towards the settlement 
on the ridge, it appeared that the entire area was on fire." That evening, when the 
soviet troops withdrew, Turdi and several other men went to assist the wounded: 

(a) "But shortly after we'd arrived [in the village], we realized that our 
search and rescue mission would be a short one. 

(b) "I can't begin to describe the complete and utter destruction which we 
witnessed. It was the silence that struck me first — we couldn't hear any voices 
even though this was the time in the evening when men usually return home 
from their prayers at the mosque. There was not a single house or even a tree 
still standing. When we entered people's courtyards and barns, there were 
animal carcasses lying everywhere. And inside the homes there was nothing 
but dead bodies lying in pools of blood and possessions scattered about which 
had clearly been rummaged through. 

(c) "Our small band of men were joined by a couple of dozen men from 
other nearby settlements. We spread out across the village walking house to 
house with small kerosene lamps looking for survivors. At one point, my 
friend and I walked into a house where three women were sitting in their 
burqas with their legs covered by blankets. If these women were in fact alive, 
we didn't want to compromise their modesty by barging in on them. So we 
went back outside and called an older man from our village to investigate. It 
turned out that the women had all been shot and their dead bodies were just 
leaning up against the walls. 

(d) "After discussing what we should do, we decided to dig several long 
shallow trenches in the ground at the edge of the village to serve as mass 
graves. Then I, like almost all of the other men, began to carry the victims 
one -by-one across the village to the mass grave. Within a few minutes, I was 
completely soaked in the blood of the unfortunate martyrs. It took us the entire 
night to gather the corpses together in their final resting place. 

(e) "But as the first light of dawn shone, a miracle occurred. One of the 
men from our village was holding hands with the lone survivor from Qarai 
Oeshlaq — a young boy who had been using the bathroom when the Soviets 


launched their attack. He had jumped down into the pit which was half filled 
with feces and urine, and in this way managed to avoid the Soviets' detection. 
The child was still in shock. He didn't say a word to any of us. He only 
nodded or shook his head to answer our questions. 

(f) "The boy was the only lucky one. Every other living thing in Qarai 
Oeshlaq — more than 450 people, and every animal were shot dead. The village 
was soon thereafter resettled by new residents who wanted to take advantage 
of the rich agriculture in the area. But before other people returned to the 
village, it had been renamed Qatl-i Am, which means 'Mass Murder.'" 123 

4. 103 According to the accounts collected by Human Rights Watch in 1985, the 
survivors of the village and mujahidin loaded the bodies of murdered children (and, 
according to some, of women and elders as well) onto bullock carts and took them in 
protest to the provincial capital. One account mentions ten carts with fifteen to 
sixteen bodies each and another mentions nine carts with about twenty bodies each. 
The elders took the carts full of dead bodies to the governor, where the Afghan 
officials reportedly claimed that the Soviets, and not they, were responsible for the 
killing, and that they were powerless to do anything about it. The elders returned with 
the bodies and tried to bury them but were shelled while trying to do so. Hence they 
buried the bodies quickly in mass graves. 124 

4. 104 One witness commented, "Not the least official mention is uttered of the crime 
till this day. They were able to silence the people for the time being, but history 
cannot remain silent." 125 

4. 105 Chardara is the district west of the provincial center, Kunduz. Special 
Rapporteur Ermacora reported another large massacre later in the year in Khanabad 
district, east of Kunduz city: 

"Several hundreds of civilians (between 700 and 1,200 according to the 
sources) were allegedly massacred in the course of a large-scale operation 
which lasted for several days in late March 1985 and was carried out against 
several villages in Kunduz province and, more specifically, Khanabad district. 
The villages most often mentioned were the following: Bagh, Amir, Gur 
Tepeh and Qarai Qasabchar. According to a statement made to the Special 
Rapporteur by an eye-witness, the Governor of the province decided to flee 
after this incident." 126 

4. 106 The killing reportedly continued later in the year in both Chardara and 
Khanabad. A farmer from Chardara District who arrived in Pakistan in July 1985 
explained his reasons for leaving: 

123 Alex Klaits and Gulchin Gulmamadova, Love and Death in Afghanistan (New York: Seven Stories 
Press, 2005 [forthcoming]). 

124 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 22. 

125 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 23. Testimony of Muhammad Jan. 

126 A/40/843 (1985) para. 81. 

page 74 

"It was because of bombardments and the cruelty of the Russian troops. 
Because when the mujahidin were resisting, the Russians would bomb the 
villages, and when the mujahidin had to retreat, the Russians would come in 
the village and kill women, children, everyone. It happened to our village and 
to our houses also. Just last month [June 1985] they killed three hundred 
people in our district, and they killed more later around Khanabad. They used 
heavy bombs to bomb the village. The bombs make a well — the hole is so 
deep it brings up water. When they came inside the village they killed many 
children by cutting their throats. When they found more, they put petrol on 
them and burned them. They killed twenty, twenty-five children this way. I 
don't know most of their names, but there was Masum Khan, Muhammad 
Ibrahim, Gul Muhammad. I saw the children, women, old ladies, too. Mostly 
they killed children, girls, married women, and old ladies. I had escaped with 
the mujahidin, but when I returned to the village, I saw the children and 
women." 127 

Qandahar Province (Southern Zone) 

4. 107 A number of sources, including Special Rapporteur Felix Ermacora, The New 
York Times , and the Chicago Tribune , described a massacre of civilians by Soviet 
troops in October 1983 in three villages southwest of Qandahar on the branch road 
linking the city to the Soviet military base at Mandisar airport. 128 On October 10 and 
11a local unit of the Jamiat-i Island resistance organization had ambushed and 
destroyed several Soviet military columns. In retribution, on the morning of October 
12, a largely Soviet force with a few Afghans acting as guides or interpreters arrived 
in the villages of Kolchabad, Moshkizai, and Balakarez. Sardar Muhammad, fifty- 
five, a farmer from Kolchabad, hid in a grain bin when he saw Russian soldiers shoot 
his neighbor, Issa Jan. 129 That afternoon, when he emerged from hiding, he went to the 
house of a friend, Ahadar Muhammad. 

"Everyone was dead. Ahadar, his wife, and his baby were lying on the floor 
covered with blood. His nine-year-old daughter was hanging over the window, 
half in the house, half out. It looked like she was shot as she tried to run away. 
The young son of thirteen years lay crumpled in another corner with his head 
shot away. I threw up. Then I carried the males outside into the courtyard and 
covered the women with pieces of cloth where they lay. I did not want anyone 
to see the women exposed the way they were." 130 

4.108 Tora, daughter of Haji Qadir Jan of Kolchabad, an eleven-year-old girl who 
survived the massacre by hiding under bedcovers, described how Soviet soldiers 

127 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 23. Testimony of Salih Muhammad, son of 
Mullah Jamal, thirty, farmer, Gulbagh village, Chardara District, Kunduz; interviewed in Munda 
refugee camp, NWFP, 21 August 1985). 

128 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1985/21) para. 115; The New York Times . 
October 20, 1983; Les nouvelles d' Afghanistan , no. 17, March-April 1984; Chicago Tribune . July 15, 
1984; Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin , no. 34, January 1984: 5. 

129 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 37. 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 37. 


accompanied by an Afghan officer herded women and children into a room and killed 
them by lobbing grenades through the window and bayoneting the survivors. Other 
witnesses described similar scenes in Moshkizai and Balakarez. The villagers who 
dug the mass graves for the victims estimated that there were one hundred dead each 
in Moshkizai and Balakarez and 160 to 170 dead in Kolchabad. 131 

4. 109 Further suffering was in store for the survivors. In January 1984, after two 
tanks were destroyed in the same area, Soviet and Afghan military units reportedly 
returned to Kolchabad, executed some village elders, and shot many more civilians. 
Many of the villagers who had fled to refugee settlements around Kandahar had to 
flee again, to Pakistan, when the Soviet Air Force bombed their camps in June. 132 

4. 1 10 Tora's story of women and children being killed by grenades is consistent with 
testimony from two Soviet deserters, Pvt. Oleg Khlan and Sgt. Igor Rykov, who had 
served as mechanic/drivers with the First Infantry Carrying Armored Corps based in 
Qandahar. Khlan stated: "During punitive expeditions, we didn't kill women and 
children with bullets. We locked them in a room and threw grenades." 133 In another 
interview, Rykov described the same procedure. 134 

4. 1 1 1 The above are only a few incidents that happened to be reported. Other 
fragments of testimony indicate how much remains to be investigated. Ermacora 

(a) "Approximately 350 men, women, and children were killed in four 
villages in the Qarabagh District, Ghazni Province [southeastern zone, in 
1984]." 135 

(b) "In March 1984, several hundred civilians were massacred in the 
villages of Dasht-e-Bolokhan and Dasht-e-Asukhan in the Kohistan region 
[probably Kapisa province, northeastern zone]." 136 

(c) "In November 1984, some 40 civilians were massacred in the village 
of Ziruq situated in the Urgun region [Paktika, southeastern zone] after two 
weeks of steady bombardment. According to the witnesses, several houses 
were destroyed and the cattle decimated." 137 

4.112 A woman nomad from Baghlan (northern zone) reported, "The government 
forces came and killed the people and took those they didn't kill to Kabul in tanks." 138 
A woman from Kapisa, northeast of Kabul, recalled, "The Russians came to my 

131 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 37-38. 

132 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 38. 

133 Le Monde . June 3-4, 1984. 

134 The Times (London), June 28, 1984. 

135 A/41/778 (1986) para. 63. 

136 E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 116. 

137 E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 116. 

138 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 47. Testimony of a woman nomad from Baghlan. 

page 76 

village three times looking for mujahidin. They killed people and animals. They killed 
women, children, and men for no reason. My neighbors were killed. They were asleep 
when the soldiers came, and the men tried to escape." 139 

E. Other Summary Executions and Killings of Civilians 

4.113 As Professor Ermacora noted in his description of Soviet military operations 
cited above, when Soviet forces entered a village, they routinely conducted house-to- 
house searches. 140 People were interrogated, after which they might be arrested or 
simply executed on the spot. If evidence was found or if people were denounced by 
informers, they could be pulled from their houses and killed in front of their families. 
Human Rights Watch reported on the execution of groups of people at a time. It also 
heard about cordon and search operations, in which ground troops entered areas after 
air and artillery attacks and shot wildly at anything that moved. In some cases 
reported below, soldiers killed Afghan civilians almost at random, not in the context 
of a military operation, but in the course of a robbery or simply as an expression of 
anger and frustration. 

4.114 Special Rapporteur Ermacora reported: 

"Some reports have been received about the use of helicopters against civilian 
prisoners. The Special Rapporteur was informed by a reliable eye-witness that 
on 27 December 1985 in Khot (Nangarhar Province) after a village search by 
tanks and soldiers assisted by helicopters, during which many people were 
killed, 16 old people were tied up and put in helicopters, they were then 
thrown out handcuffed from a height of about 10 metres near the village, as 
they were thrown out, ground forces shot at them, five survived, one of whom 
managed to escape and observe the atrocities committed during this raid." 141 

139 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 47. Testimony of a woman from Kohistan, Kapisa 

140 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 47. 

141 E/CN.4/1 986/24 para. 96. 


4.115 Amnesty International reported in May 1988 that "Soviet and Afghan 
government forces appear to have been engaged in a policy of deliberately killing 
refugees fleeing Afghanistan and have been carrying out reprisal killings of other 
unarmed civilians." 142 Amnesty cited one case of "100 refugee families from 
Sherkhudo village, in the extreme northwestern province of Faryab, who were twice 
attacked during their 500 km-plus trek to the border with Pakistan. In the first attack, 
in October 1987, government forces allegedly surrounded them and killed 19, seven 
of them children under six. Two weeks later helicopters are reported to have opened 
fire on the group without warning, killing five men." 143 Amnesty International also 
reported several other incidents, including a reprisal killing by Soviet soldiers of 
twenty-nine unarmed civilians in Logar. 144 

4.116 Amnesty International documented some of these killings: 

(a) On October 13, 1986, Afghan soldiers with Soviet advisers entered the 
village of Chardehi (AI says Chardee), Paktika. They searched the houses and 
found no weapons. They then summarily executed two men known to 
sympathize with the resistance, aged sixty and thirty. 

(b) In August 1987 seventeen civilian boys and men aged fourteen to sixty 
were killed by government troops in Mir Bacha Kot district of Kabul province. 
They were killed with grenades and their bodies dumped in a well, in reprisal 
for an earlier attack on government troops. 

(c) In March 1987 Soviet helicopters attacked a civilian bus, killing forty- 
two of forty-five passengers. Soviet soldiers inspected the remains and 
summarily shot any who appeared to have survived. 

(d) On September 6, 1987, in Sabzak village, Nahrin sub-district (now 
district), Baghlan, shelling killed eight people, including two women and four 

(e) On October 10, 1987, Soviet forces burned a vehicle carrying twenty- 
nine unarmed civilians in the gorge between Dadu and Khoshi in Logar 
province. All the passengers died in an apparent reprisal for an ambush by the 
mujahidin in the gorge the day before. 145 

4.117 Summary executions were described by Muhammad Amin Salim, a former 
state's attorney who had also taught Islamic law at Kabul University, and who had 
returned to his village in the Shamali area north of Kabul. According to his report, 
when the Soviets came to search his village, Karez Mir, in June- July 1983 (Saratan 

142 Amnesty International, Soviet and Afghan Government Forces in Apparent Policy of Killing 
Refugees . ASA 1 1/05/88 (London: 1988). 

143 Amnesty International, Soviet and Afghan Government Forces in Apparent Policy of Killing 
Refugees . 

144 Amnesty International, Soviet and Afghan Government Forces in Apparent Policy of Killing 
Refugees . 

145 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Unlawful Killings and Torture . ASA 11/02/88 (London: 1988). 

page 78 

1362), they locked six elders in a room. They asked them where their sons were 
(suspecting them of being mujahidin): 

"The old men said they had no sons. Immediately, when they heard this, they 
fired on two of the men, killing them with automatic rifle blasts. The third 
person — it was a very sad event — they put him against a tree and with a big 
nail [apparently a bayonet] a soldier stabbed him in the chest and nailed him to 
the tree. What I am telling you is what I saw myself. The other Russian had a 
big nail in his hand, and he stabbed another old man in the mouth, unhinging 
his lower jaw. The next they put in a well, and then they threw an explosive in 
the well. Then, when they went into another house, I managed to escape. After 
my escape, I returned to the village about twelve or thirteen hours later. I also 
saw two little boys who had been killed." 146 

4.118 Sufi Akhtar Muhammad, a fifty-two-year-old farmer and mujahid from 
Zamankhel village, Pul-i Khumri District, Baghlan Province, told Human Rights 
Watch of an incident he witnessed in Wardak Province on his way to Peshawar, about 
twenty-five days before Human Rights Watch interviewed him in Peshawar on 
September 30, 1984. The Soviets had come to Awalkhel village to search for guns. 
When the Soviets left, Sufi Akhtar and his colleagues went to investigate: 

"We noticed eight dead bodies. They told us that after the Russians searched 
the houses, they killed people of all ages, men, women, and children. Of the 
eight bodies, two were slaughtered [had their throats cut], and all of them were 
burned. The Russians had asked the relatives to watch while they killed the 
eight people. The first two were slaughtered, and then the remaining ones were 
brought and shot with Kalashnikovs. They poured kerosene on them and set 
them on fire. The people said that the Russians were not alone. A few Khalqis 
and Parchamis were guiding them to the houses. When they were searching 
the houses, they found two Russian-made machine guns, captured from the 
Afghan Army in fighting in Ab-i Chakan. This was how they took their 
revenge." 147 

4. 1 19 Farmers and villagers interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Peshawar in 
September 1984 had similar stories to tell. Bibi Makhro, wife of Abdul Jalil, of 
Chardara District, Kunduz Province, had pieces of shrapnel in her left leg. 

"Nine months ago the Russian soldiers came to our village. The mujahidin 
escaped, but I was in the street with two other women. When the Russians saw 
us, they threw bombs [grenades]. The other two women were killed, but I 

survived." 148 

4. 120 Human Rights Watch heard numerous reports of and documented summary 
executions by Soviet troops that entered Baraki Barak District, Logar Province, on 
September 6, 1984. Dr. Ghazi Alam told Human Rights Watch in an interview on 

146 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 42-43. Testimony of Muhammad Amin Salim; interviewed 
in Peshawar, September 29, 1984. 

147 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 45-46. 

148 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 46. 


September 22 about an old man, Muhammad Rafiq, who was killed there in the 
village of Akhundkhel. 149 The French doctors Patrick David and Francois Frey, who 
were in Logar Province in early September, gave Human Rights Watch this report: 

"Baraki Barak District is on the way to Pakistan for all of northern 
Afghanistan. There were thirty men on their way to Iran [via Pakistan] to find 
work. They were all killed by the Russians. There were forty-five innocent 
people killed. Some were 'slaughtered' [had their throats slit], two in Baraki 
Barak [village] and one in the mountains of Saijawand. Some were burned 
with petrol. Some had dynamite put on their backs and were blown up. The 
Russians cut people's lips and ears and gouged out their eyes. We saw a man 
the Russians had shot in the foot after stealing his watch and money. Two 
boys escaped and hid themselves in a well. The Russians put some kind of gas 
in the well that exploded when it hit the water. One died, and the other, whom 
we treated, had a severe lung problem. A boy about twelve years old in 
Chalozai was shot in the elbow when he ran away from the Russians." 150 

4. 121 Patients in an amputee hospital in Peshawar whom Human Rights Watch 
visited on September 27, 1984, told Human Rights Watch of summary executions by 
Soviet soldiers in Bazarak, the home village of Ahmad Shah Massoud, in the Panjshir 
Valley. They recounted two incidents in which Soviets killed elders who had 
remained behind in the village when the able-bodied had fled. In both cases, in 1982, 
the Soviets reportedly shot the elders (two in one case, seven in another) and burned 
their bodies. 151 The seven killed in the fall of 1982 were named as Yar Muhammad, 
Haji Karim, Mirza Shah, Muhammad Yusuf, Zahiruddin, Muhammad Gul, and 
Ghiasuddin. 152 

4. 122 Robbery was sometimes the motive for killings. 

"When the Russian forces come to a village, the mujahidin leave. The 
Russians search the houses. In each house they took every thing. If they find 
carpets, radios, cassettes, watches, they take them for themselves. If the family 
resists, they kill them. For example, Inayatullah was killed last year in the fall 
of 1983. He was an old man. He had af 5,000 (about $100 at the official rate of 
exchange) in his pocket. Some Russian soldiers wanted to take it, but he said 
no. They shot him. Another case: they were searching houses and came to the 
house of a teacher, Azizullah. They took a radio and other things. But his 
small daughter did not permit them to take the radio. So they beat the daughter 
and threw bombs [grenades] at the whole family." 153 

149 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 48. 

150 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 48. Interview in Peshawar, September 22, 1984 

151 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 48. Testimony of Muhammad Sherdil, twenty -three, from 
Khaniz-i Bazarak village in the Panjshir Valley, Parwan Province. 

152 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 49. Testimony of Muhammad Hashim, twenty-six, of 
Bazarak, Panjshir Valley, Parwan Province. 

153 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 51. Sayyid Azim, former government official; interviewed 
in Peshawar, September 25, 1984. 

page 80 

4. 123 Reports indicated that even the mosques were not safe. Mullah Fida 
Muhammad of Pashmul village, Panjwai District, Qandahar Province, described in a 
written interview how he and about fifteen other worshippers were captured by Soviet 
troops in the Pashmul mosque as they began the dawn prayer on August 25, 1984: 

"Before taking us out of the mosque they searched us and the mosque for fear 
of any possible weapons. Then they took us to Zidanian mosque, where a 
dozen other villagers arrested by the Soviet troops were also waiting with their 
Soviet guards. In that mosque, the Soviets lined us up against the long wall, 
and we thought that they would shoot us (you know this is very common with 
the Russian pigs), so we started saying our kalima [profession of faith: 'There 
is no God but The God; Muhammad is the messenger of God.']. Then they 
ordered us to keep our hands up, and of course we did so. After that two 
Soviets started searching in our pockets and took away whatever cash we had 
together with our wristwatches. Stupid Obaidullah [the son of a poor farmer] 
refused to hand over his cash, and immediately he was shot and died instantly; 
the rest of us knew what to do." 154 

4. 124 Dr. Jean-Didier Bardy of Medecins sans Frontieres described how he and his 
colleagues in the dispensary of Behsud, Wardak Province, were called to the village 
of Jalrez in August 1981 to treat the victims of a two-hour attack by four helicopters 
on a wedding party. The attack left thirty dead and seventy-five wounded." 155 Soviet 
aircraft also reportedly attacked a wedding near Sorkhakan in Laghman Province on 
April 14, 1983 (seventy dead), and in Anbarkhana, Nangarhar Province, on August 
14, 1984 (dozens dead by one report, 563 by another). 156 

4. 125 Niyaz Turdi, the Turkmen mentioned above, recalled the night before his own 

(a) "As I drifted off to sleep lots of sweet questions swirled in my head: 
'What will I say to Amina when I first see her? What will she look like? Is she 
as beautiful as my relatives have promised?' But my dreams were anything 
but sweet. As dawn approached, I had a terrible nightmare that Soviet 
helicopters were circling above our village and attempting to decimate 
everything that lay in their path. Our fellow villagers were screaming in fear 
and begging me to run for cover. . . . 

(b) "Unfortunately, the dream blended quickly into reality. The next thing 
I knew I had been thrown several feet into the air after a Soviet missile had 
struck the next door mosque. Immediately I scrambled to my feet, and 
stumbled out into our courtyard. It had just become light outside. And just 
when I exited the house, a missile landed right next to our kitchen. The bomb 
didn't cause much damage but it burrowed so deeply, water from underground 
began spurting into the air. 

154 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 52. 

155 His account, entitled "Les 'vacances': Jalrez," was cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 

156 Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin , no. 25, April 1983: 13; Agence France Presse . 
Peshawar, April 18, 1983; Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin , no. 41, August 1984: 9; 
Associated Press . Islamabad, August 21, 1984. 


(c) "I looked up and saw that there were three or four helicopters circling 
above our village. Another bomb struck right behind our house, and a few 
seconds later a third bomb landed on a house a couple of doors away. There 
was sheer pandemonium as all my relatives ran in different directions. Most of 
them sprinted out of the house on to the street, shrieking with terror. But I just 
stood in place watching the helicopters above. 'Why would it be any safer out 
on the street or in another house?' I thought. 'Bombs after all are exploding all 
over our village.' There had been a few raids on our village over the course of 
the past year since the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan but nothing had 
approached the ferocity of this attack. 'Why today?' I asked myself. 'Why on 
my wedding day?' Then I recalled that some of the guests at the wedding party 
were actually mujahidin insurgents. 'So maybe this isn't a coincidence after 
all,' I thought. 

(d) "Just as these disconnected ideas spun around my head, a helicopter 
swooped down maybe 100 yards away from our house and hung in the air, as 
though the pilot was sizing up the wisdom of an attack. Instinctively, I ran 
back inside the house to hide. It turned out that I was suddenly all alone in one 
part of our house. Most of our guests had fled, but I knew that some of my 
family members were probably huddled in a room directly across the 
courtyard from me. I had often hidden in that room with my family during past 
bombing raids. 

(e) "As I dashed into the empty room, I looked out the window whose 
glass had been shattered to see whether the helicopter had finally moved on to 
inflict damage elsewhere. But just at that moment, I saw its missiles being 
fired directly towards the room where my family was gathered. I was blinded 
by the light from the explosion. The thing that I remember most vividly was 
how our strong wooden roof beams were demolished and disintegrated into 
tiny pieces. Then I heard the screams from all the people who had sought 
shelter in that room. Even though the helicopter was still circling above, I 
rushed across our courtyard to see if I could do anything to help the survivors. 

(f) "The force of the bomb was so great that there was very little left of the 
room. At first, I couldn't even see my relatives— as there was thick dust 
everywhere. I had to shut my eyes to prevent them from the fallout. Initially, 
the only way I was able to find my way to the victims of the attack was by 
listening for their cries. 'Please, somebody help me! ' I heard one of my sisters 
wail. When I finally groped my way across the room, I discovered that there 
was a large gash on her head and her shoulder had been badly injured. Also 
like almost all of the people in the room, she was nearly naked as her clothes 
had been turned into tatters from the explosion. Then I heard another relative 
crying for assistance. 

(g) "It wasn't until the dust settled that I was able to fully assess the 
damage. One of my sisters had somehow completely escaped injury, but the 
remaining eight people in the room, including my parents, were badly 
wounded and many were drenched in blood. A couple of my family members 
had serious injuries on their legs and feet, while a few others had a large chunk 

page 82 

of skin torn away. Almost all them had splinters from the smashed timber roof 
beams scattered all of their bodies. My one and only brother, who was five 
years younger than I, turned out to be the lone fatality. 

(h) "Our possessions were strewn in every direction, and a couple of the 
metal trunks which were intended for Amina's family had been thrown clear 
over our house's surrounding wall. I had to run around the house to collect 
clothing so that my female relatives could cover themselves. 

(i) "The bombs continued exploding around our village for another half 
hour or so. But it felt interminable. When the helicopters finally left us in 
peace, we took all of our wounded family members to our neighbor who was a 
doctor. The unharmed young men among our relatives carried those who were 
seriously injured on our backs to the doctor's house. But when we arrived, a 
large group of wounded people = including many women and children — were 
already lying in his courtyard awaiting treatment. The range of injuries was 
shocking: some had lost arms and legs, others had serious head injuries, and 
others had pieces of shrapnel buried in their bodies. The fortunate ones only 
had light injuries on their hands and feet. There were in fact so many injured 
people from our village that young men were dispatched to neighboring 
villages to summon their doctors for assistance. To this day, there are many 
people in my native village who still bear the scars from that malicious attack: 
they walk with limps, lost limbs or have big scars on their bodies. In total, 16 
people from our village, including my brother, lost their lives on this awful 

4. 126 Niyaz Turdi's mother refused treatment for what she claimed was a minor 
wound, so that the only doctor could treat others in greater need. A few days later she 
died an agonizing death from a piece of shrapnel lodged in her abdomen. 157 

4. 127 Human Rights Watch also reported attacks on funerals: 

(a) "Two days later, after the burial, when the people were coming to 
console the families, the Russians came again and killed one woman and five 
men. The people were escaping, and the Russians opened fire from tanks. This 
was in Ju-yi Naw village. The men killed were Haji Zafar Khan, Amir, 
Zondai, Kapa, and Said Rahman, who was fourteen years old. The woman was 
from another village, so I do not know her name." 158 

(b) "We have a custom, when someone is buried, to go to the grave for 
prayer. But while they were praying, the Russians came by helicopter. Two 
helicopters were flying overhead, and two landed Russian soldiers, who fired 
with Kalashnikovs. Those who were running away were shot by the flying 
helicopters, the rest by the Russians who landed. There were forty-one killed, 
including Abdul Rahman and Abdul Sattar, sons of Abdul Khair; Abdul 
Muhammad, son of Faizullah; and Lala Akhundzada, son of Bagram 
Akhundzada. My other brother was there, and he brought back the dead. 

Klaits and Gulmamadova. 

158 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 53. Testimony of Sufi Akhtar Muhammad, fifty-two, a 
farmer from Baghlan; interviewed in Peshawar, September 25, 1984. 


Thirty-five of the men had arms, but six of them didn't. They were just by the 
grave, burying him, but they were killed too." 159 

4. 128 As noted above, Amnesty International reported a "policy of deliberate 
killings by Soviet and Afghan Government forces of Afghan refugees fleeing toward 
Pakistan." 160 Christian Science Monitor reporter Edward Girardet witnessed one such 

"Having reached the [Pashal] valley floor by early evening the day before, the 
nomads had pitched a sprawling camp by the side of the river [on August 18, 
1984]. Shortly after the first light, the Antonov [reconnaissance plane] 
appeared and made several passes over their distinctive black tents, smoking 
fires, and grazing animals before returning to base. . . . The MiGs took the 
refugees completely by surprise. Appearing at 10 in the morning, the swing- 
wing fighter first unloaded two bombs each, believed to be 500-pounders, and 
then made repeated runs firing rockets and strafing with their 23mm Gatling 
guns. Nine women and five children were killed instantly and more than 60 
injured, many of them severely. Overall, by the time the Soviets completed 
their attacks in the area, at least 40 refugees had died." 161 

4. 129 A nomad woman from Baghlan who had arrived in Pakistan five days before 
Human Rights Watch interviewed her on September 25, 1984, said that on the way to 
Pakistan Soviet bombers had killed almost all the animals, sheep and camels, and 
burned their tents and clothes. She pointed to burns from bombings on the limbs of 
her children. 162 In another interview, Azizullah, seventeen, who had just arrived in 
Pakistan from Madrasa District of Kunduz with twenty-three other families, stated 
that in the mountains around Jalalabad, Nangarhar, their caravan was bombed. Eight 
people were killed, including his mother, Jamal. In an interview on September 24, 
1984, he showed Human Rights Watch the burns from this bombing, which had 
occurred about three weeks before. 163 

4.130 Amnesty International reported the following cases from 1987: 

(a) A group of about one hundred families from Sherkhudo village, 
Darzab district, Faryab province, fled from intense bombardments in 
September 1987. In Herat province they were surrounded by government 
forces and fired on. Nineteen died, including seven children (named by AI) 
and five women. Fifteen days later Soviet helicopters fired on them in 
Helmand province, killing five men (named by AI). 

(b) In October 1987, a twelve-year-old Uzbek boy from Kunduz came 
under fire with his widowed mother and others from his village while walking 

159 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 54. Testimony of Bakht Muhammad, forty-seven, a 
landlord from Kalacha village, Qandahar; interviewed in Quetta, October 3, 1984. 

160 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Unlawful Killings and Torture . 

161 The Christian Science Monitor . October 10, 1984. 

162 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 55. 

163 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 55. 

page 84 

to Pakistan. His father had already been killed in a bombardment. Two were 
killed and four wounded by helicopter rockets, including the boy, whose 
wounds were visible when he was interviewed. 

(c) In September 1987 refugees fleeing Kunduz were arrested in Baghlan 
and two of them summarily executed. Another group of refugees from the 
same area was also attacked in Baghlan. A man who had lost three sons in a 
bombardment in his village lost another son and two daughters in this attack. 

(d) In May 1987 a student from Kabul found the bullet-ridden bodies of 
about 130 apparent refugees in Charkh district of Logar, along a trail used to 
flee to Pakistan. 

(e) In November 1986 Soviet soldiers killed fourteen people, including 
two women and a child, when they opened fire on a minibus near 
Zarghunshahr, Paktika. 164 

4. 13 1 As noted above, such killings appeared to be less frequent after the Soviet 
decision to withdraw, and even less frequent after the withdrawal itself. Nonetheless, 
Human Rights Watch documented a number of cases during the later period: 

(a) In late 1989, after the bombing of Siqh Sang, in Nangarhar, "Afghan 
militia" summarily executed eight young men found with guns who their 
female relatives said were members of Hizb-i Islami (Hikmatyar). 

(b) In early 1990, soldiers who suspected villagers in Chaharbagh district 
of Nangarhar of feeding mujahidin burned three to five people alive after 
pouring gasoline on them. 165 

4. 132 Afghanistan has never had a complete census. The rural population has never 
been fully registered with the state. Hence, reckoning the numbers killed in the 
incidents listed above is a matter of rough estimates. Professor Ermacora commented 
in 1988: 

"Figures differ with regard to the total number of people killed during the war. 
Reports from sources considered reliable by the Special Rapporteur estimate 
the figure at 3.5 million. It should be noted, however, that the report of the 
United Nations Co-ordinator mentions only [sic] 1 .5 million." 166 

164 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Unlawful Killings and Torture . 

165 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 36-37. 

166 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of 
Human Rights in Afghanistan" (A/43/742, 1988) para. 105. The report referred to was the "First 
consolidated report prepared by the Office of the United Nations Co-ordinator for Humanitarian and 
Economic Assistance Programmes relating to Afghanistan," (Geneva: 1988): 42. In the same 
document (para. 139), Ermacora gave the round estimate of one million for the total number of civilian 
deaths since 1980. 


4.133 The only systematic attempt to estimate excess mortality due to war in the 
Afghan population was carried out by Swiss demographer Marek Sliwinski in 1988. 167 
Sliwinski reconstructed retroactive family histories of a sample of Afghan refugees in 
Pakistan, stratified by province. On the basis of his sample, with corrections for 
estimated populations and rates of emigration from each province, he estimated an 
excess mortality due to war of 1.28 million people during the period 1979-1987. 
Sliwinski's figures showed that by far the largest cause of death was bombardment. 
The number killed thus may have approached ten percent of the population, estimated 
at 15.5 million in 1979. 

Sliwinski 39-56. 

page 86 

(December 27, 1979-April 15, 1992 / Qaws 10, 1358-Hamal 26, 1371): 

5.1 The Soviet forces and Afghan government were reported to have laid and 
distributed various forms of antipersonnel mines in many areas of the country. Since 
1989 the UN's Mine Action Program for Afghanistan and then several NGOs 
coordinated by the UN have been involved in demining and removing unexploded 
munitions throughout the country, including some placed by other armed groups as 
well. During the Soviet- Afghan war, the treaty banning the use of land mines, which 
Afghanistan ratified on September 11, 2002, had not yet even been drafted. The 
treaty was adopted in Oslo on September 17, 1997, and opened for signature on 
December 3, 1997, in Ottawa. It entered into force on March 1, 1999, once it had 
been ratified by forty countries. 1 

5.2 The mayhem that land mines had spread among the population of Afghanistan 
helped motivate the NGOs that campaigned for that treaty. In July 2002, Jody 
Williams, co-recipient the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with the International Coalition to 
Ban Landmines, said, "For many, 'Afghanistan' is almost synonymous with 
'landmines.' And 'landmine' is synonymous with the devastation of war." 2 The 
International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that 200,000 Afghans were killed 
or wounded by mines in twenty-three years of war. The ICRC's data shows that the 
most victims were — and still are — non-combatant civilians. 3 

5.3 Land mines, like other weapons, were regulated even then by the rule of 
proportionate use only against military targets and, more specifically, by the Land 
Mines Protocol. 4 Specific regulations then in force also required the mapping and 
post-combat removal of land mines. 

5.4 The use of booby-traps of various sorts was banned under the prohibition of 
the use of "perfidy" in warfare. The Land Mines Protocol specifically bans "any 
booby-trap in the form of an apparently harmless portable object which is specifically 
designed and constructed to contain explosive material and to detonate when it is 
disturbed or approached." 5 The use of booby-trapped dead bodies or of double mines 
(two mines laid so that one explodes when the other is removed) were also explicitly 
banned at the time, yet both were reported by the UN Special Rapporteur, among 

1 Article 17 states: "This Convention shall enter into force on the first day of the sixth month after the 
month in which the 40th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession has been 

2 Liz Bernstein, Karzai Urged to Bring Hope to Most Mined Country (Kabul: Afghanistan, July 26, 

3 Associated Press, "Afghan Landmines Focus of Conference," Kabul, Afghanistan, 26 July 2002, 
posting on Landmine Survivors Network. 

4 For a review of the legal requirements of the Land Mines Protocol and its application to Afghanistan, 
see Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch. By All Parties to the Conflict: Violations of the War in 
Afghanistan (New York: 1988) 26. 

5 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 3 1 . 


5.5 Investigators, including the UN Special Rapporteur, reported the use of other 
possibly prohibited weapons at the time, notably gas and chemical weapons. These 
reports are cited in detail below. Afghans also reported the use of incendiary and 
fragmentation weapons against civilian or predominantly civilian targets. 

5.6 The evidence does not suggest the use of fatal chemical weapons. Rather, the 
reports cited below indicate that, at least through 1982, Soviet forces at times used 
chemical agents designed to render people unconscious, sick, or disabled, and that 
some doses of these agents were sometimes fatal. 

5.7 The war in Afghanistan was not an interstate war under the Geneva 
Conventions, and the Soviet and DRA forces were not required to extend to captured 
fighters all the rights granted to prisoners of war under those Conventions. Common 
article three, however, applying to all forms of armed conflict, prohibits the killing 
and torturing of disarmed prisoners or wounded persons, which, as shown below, 
were widespread practices. 

5.8 Since the time during which the events recounted in this chapter took place, 
new international norms have been established concerning the treatment of women 
and children during armed conflict. The experiences of Bosnia and Rwanda, in 
particular, have led to the recognition of rape as a specific war crime. It is 
extraordinarily difficult to collect evidence of rape in Afghanistan, given the code of 
honor that regulates relations between the sexes and within families, but the UN 
Special Rapporteur and some human rights organizations nonetheless managed to 
collect some testimonies. 

5.9 Concern over the fate of children in armed conflict has been expressed through 
adoption of international agreements banning the use of child soldiers and the 
establishment of a special office at the UN, that of the Under- Secretary-General for 
Children in Armed Conflict. Though this question was not as well defined or 
identified in the 1980s as it is today, Human Rights Watch, at the initiative of the then 
director of Helsinki Watch, Jeri Laber, devoted a report to the children of Afghanistan 
in 1986. 6 The UN Special Rapporteur also devoted some attention to this issue. This 
chapter deals with abuses of children during incidents of armed conflict and the effect 
on children of the conflict, while the next chapter deals with forced recruitment, 
including that of child soldiers, and the forced separation of children from their 
families for political purposes. 

5.10 As is common in wars of rural counterinsurgency, the Soviet and DRA forces 
also made war against the rural economy, both as punishment and to drain the sea in 
which the mujahidin swam, to use Mao Tsetung's metaphor. 7 In 1991, the official 
Soviet military publishing house (Voenizdat) issued a collective study called The War 
in Afghanistan . Its authors stated: 

6 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, To Win the Children: Afghanistan's Other War (New York: 

7 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries: Human Rights in Afghanistan Since the Invasion 1979- 
1984 (New York: 1984)70. 

page 88 

"From the beginning of 1980 the spirit of money-grabbing spread among the 
Soviet forces in Afghanistan. There were numerous trials of soldiers, sergeants 
and officers for robbery, pillage, and killings of the Afghan civilians (children 
included), but these were military tribunals, and ordinary Soviet people did not 
know of these cases. In addition, there were cases when groups of Soviets 
(civilian and military) together with Afghans organized drugs-trafficking to 
deliver narcotics to the USSR." 8 

5.11 As noted, such trials were not public knowledge and hence had no deterrent 
effect. The behavior of the Soviet forces began to change only after Gorbachev began 
planning for withdrawal. All of these actions of destruction and plunder were 
specifically prohibited under the 1977 additional protocols to the Geneva 
Conventions. Though the USSR and Afghanistan had not ratified those additional 
protocols, they are considered part of customary international law. 

5.12 International humanitarian law also requires granting humanitarian access, 
respecting the humanitarian status of medical personnel and medical establishments, 
and permitting journalists to work. Until the mid- to late 1980s the DRA and USSR 
refused to allow even the ICRC to work in Afghanistan and actively attacked medical 
workers, clinics, and journalists in resistance-held areas. They also refused to 
countenance examination by the international community of their human rights record 
and refused all access to the UN Special Rapporteur, as well as private human rights 
organizations, until 1987, when the Special Rapporteur made his first visit to 

A. Mines and Booby Traps 

5.13 Special Rapporteur Ermacora observed that among "the main types of action 
which have caused deaths and casualties, in particular among the civilian population" 
was "the use of anti-personnel mines and booby-trap toys." 9 Many witnesses, he 
reported, "testified that the use of anti-personnel mines and booby-trap toys was now 
part of a strategy clearly aimed specifically at the civilian population of villages." 10 
Some of these mines were powerful enough to kill, while others had charges that only 
maimed. As noted below, it now appears that the so-called "booby-trap toys" were 
unfamiliar types of aerially distributed mines and fragmentation devices that 
resembled everyday objects but were not intentionally designed to mimic them. 11 

5.14 Reports cited below show that Soviet soldiers left minefields around their 
bases after quitting an area, in violation of rules that require their clearance. Their 

8 N. I. Pikov, , E.G. Nikitenko, Y. L. Tegin, and Y. N._Shvedov, BoHHa b AforamicTaHe ( The War in 
Afghanistan ) (Moscow: Voyenizdat [Military Publishing House], 1991)266. Thanks to Vladimir 
Plastun for this reference. All the authors were military officers with the rank of colonel or 

9 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 986/24) para. 79. 

10 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/40/843, 1985) para. 90. 

11 For an inventory with technical data of mines found in Afghanistan, see United Nations Afghanistan 
Mine Clearance Programme, Mines Recognition Handbook (Islamabad: n.d., though it appears to be 
from 1995). Thanks to Sayed Aqa, Mine Action Team Leader, UNDP, for this reference. 


helicopters dropped camouflaged PFM-1 "butterfly" mines, impossible to map, 
around populated areas, on roads, and in grazing areas. These mines had "wings" to 
assure that they would flutter to the ground without detonating, but that also proved 
attractive to children who thought they were toys of some type. During sweeps 
through villages, soldiers were reported to have left antipersonnel mines in food bins 
and other parts of the houses of people who had fled. 12 Felix Ermacora, the UN 
Special Rapporteur, reported that, during the process of withdrawal, Soviet troops laid 
new mines, which constituted "a major obstacle to the return of refugees." 13 Human 
Rights Watch also heard of mines left in mosques, of booby-trapped bodies that 
exploded when relatives attempted to move them, and of trip wires placed in fruit 
trees that injured the harvester. 14 

5.15 There is no authoritative figure on the number of mines laid in Afghanistan, 
but the UN Special Rapporteur noted in 1990 that, according to the Afghan 
government, "From 1980 until the date at which the Soviet troops were withdrawn, 
they had laid 170,235 mines in various security areas, while the Afghan forces laid 
453,000. A further 800,000 mines were laid by the Afghan army since then [one year 
later]." 15 

5.16 Much of the early information about these mines and booby traps came from 
French medical organizations who were the first non-Afghans to work in resistance- 
held areas of Afghanistan. Based on their experience, Claude Malhuret, then the head 
of Medecins sans Frontieres, and later the Minister of State for Health, wrote in 1983: 

"The Russians know quite well that in this type of war, an injured person is 
much more trouble than a dead person. ... In many cases, he will die several 
days or weeks later from gangrene or from staphylococcus or gram-negative 
septicemia, with atrocious suffering, which further depresses those who must 
watch him die. The MSF has also seen the damage caused by the explosion of 
booby-trapped toys, in most cases plastic pens or small red trucks, which are 
choice terror weapons. Their main targets are children whose hands and arms 
are blown off. It is impossible to imagine any objective that is more removed 
from conventional military strategy, which forswears civilian targets." 16 

12 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 56. 

13 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 989/24) para. 57. 

14 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 57. 

15 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 990/25) para. 64. 

16 Dr. Claude Malhuret, "Report from Afghanistan," Foreign Affairs 62 (Winter 1983/1984): 430. 
"Pens" are likely to be various types of mine fuses, in plastic or metal, that are in the form of metal 
cylinders, such as Czechoslovak AP Mine Fuse RO 1, Soviet AP Mine Fuses MUV (several versions), 
and Soviet AP Mine Fuse VPF. Mines would be buried with the fuses, looking like "pens," protruding 
above the soil; see the photographs, for instance, of various Soviet AP bounding fragmentation and 
directional fragmentation mines (OZM-3, OZM-4, OZM-72, and MON 50) in UNAMCP, Mines 
Recognition Handbook 63-69. A photograph of a Soviet AP Blast PMN mine in the Mines 
Recognition Handbook has a reddish color, though it bears at most a very general resemblance to a 

page 90 

5.17 At this time, there was no UN or NGO demining program. After the Soviet 
Army left an area, the local population tried to remove these unmarked minefields by 
themselves, but they lacked proper training and equipment for this difficult and 
dangerous work. Most of the mines were plastic, rather than metal, and thus much 
more difficult to detect, though the fuses were more often metal. 17 Sometimes mines 
were laid in pairs, so that a person removing the first mine was injured or killed by the 
second. Dad-i Khuda, a thirty-eight-year-old farmer from Abdara in the Panjshir 
Valley, told Human Rights Watch in an interview on September 27, 1984, in 
Peshawar that he had lost his leg this way in the winter of 1982. 18 

5.18 In addition to mines around their bases, Soviet forces were reported to have 
systematically left antipersonnel mines in areas where they were likely to kill 
civilians. 19 Several types, like the PMN or MS-3 antipersonnel mines, were oval or 
disk-shaped and were placed by hand. Another type, the PFM-1 butterfly mine, had 
two plastic wings, enabling it to flutter to the ground when dropped by a helicopter; 
there was a detonator in one of the wings. Butterfly mines were dropped in canisters 
that exploded in midair, scattering the mines over wide areas. According to a study 
from the Ministry of Defense of Austria, a Soviet helicopter could carry two mine 
launch apparatuses, each of which contained six packets of twelve PFM-1 butterfly 
mines, making a total of 144 mines per mission. This study also reported the 
introduction in 1985 of artillery-launched butterfly mines in green plastic packets, 
each of which contained twenty mines with propellant in the middle to spread them. 20 
They came in two camouflage colors, green for grazing areas and sand for roads and 
mountain paths. 21 

5.19 The French doctors working for humanitarian organizations in resistance-held 
areas of Afghanistan frequently witnessed the use of antipersonnel mines against 
civilians. In some areas the most common medical procedure they performed was the 
amputation of limbs injured by mines. Children watching over the animals in the 
fields were often the victims. Many lost legs or feet by stepping on mines left in the 
mountains. 22 

5.20 In her summary of the effects of the Soviet- Afghan offensive against 
Saijawand, Logar, which she witnessed in January 1983, Dr. Odile de Bailleux of 
Aide Medicare Internationale reported, 'Antipersonnel mines were spread 
everywhere, inside houses, in the flour storage bins. . . . The people are now living 
forty to a room out of fear of these mines." 23 

17 UN, Mines Recognition Handbook . 

18 Helsinki Watch. Tears. Blood, and Cries 57. 

19 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 57. 

20 Roland Flor, Afghanistan. Ein Kriegsgeschehen unter besonderen Verhaltnissen: Erfassungen 
Ableitungen. Lehren (Vienna: Institut fur Strategische Grundlagenforschung an der 
Landesverteidigungsakademie, 1985) 116. Title translated as "Afghanistan. A war situation under 
particular circumstances: establishment of facts, consequences, conclusions." 

21 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 56; UN, Mines Recognition Handbook . 

22 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 58. 

23 Les nouvelles d' Afghanistan 15 (October-November 1983): 16. 


5.21 Sayed Azim of Maidan, Wardak, told Human Rights Watch in an interview on 
September 25, 1984, in Peshawar about a mine left under the carpet of the mosque in 
his home village of Umarkhel in the autumn of 1983: "We took a long piece of wood 
and lifted up the carpet very carefully, so that the bomb underneath would not go 

off." 24 

5.22 In an August 1985 interview in Peshawar, two nurses with Medecins Sans 
Frontieres, Rudy Seynaeve and Marie Basuyan, described some civilian victims of 
antipersonnel mines whom they encountered in Afghanistan in 1985. In January 
1985, they reported, after government troops withdrew from the valley of Zari (Balkh 
province), they left both large and small mines in the valley, in the bazaar, and 
elsewhere. 25 The large mine was described as looking like a "dinner plate" (probably 
a PMN or MS-3) and the small one as being khaki in color, about the size of a 
matchbox, and in different shapes, both square and round (possibly a version of the 
PFM-1). A man who picked up one such mine lost his hand. 26 Seynave summarized 
his case notes as follows: 

"The 29th of January, Nur Ahmad, eighteen years old, from Aq Kupruq, 
arrived with half of his right hand [blown] away, already twenty days ago he 
said. So approximately the 9th of January there had been jets above Aq 
Kupruk, and he said two big enormous bombs they let fall. The bombs they 
opened in the air, and out of them little things are falling. And he said 
approximately 120, he said, little, kind of khaki colored, little things, big as a 
box of matches. You touch it, and you lose three fingers, half a thumb, even 
more, half of a hand. But he was the only one that got wounded, because all 
the others had been destroyed by means of sticks and stones. Children were 
using them, they threw rocks at them." 27 

5.23 They also treated a victim of an antipersonnel mine left in an irrigation ditch. 

5.24 Dead bodies were also reported to have been mined, as were houses. 

(a) "Next to a place called Mustokhan nobody could touch or retrieve the 
body of the dead freedom fighter, because they were afraid of the body being 
booby-trapped. A 16-17-year-old sister went up to the body, and she was 
blown up with the body of her brother. We simply had to pick up the pieces 
and put them in a sack." 28 

(b) "When the Russians entered the houses, they put small bombs inside 
suitcases and briefcases. When children and women picked them up, they 
exploded. I had retreated from the village with the mujahidin. Then the 

24 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 59. 

25 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 35. 

26 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 36. 

27 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 36. 

28 Testimony of Nasser Ahmad Faruqi, International Afghanistan Hearing Oslo. March 13-16. 1983: 
Final Report (Oslo: 1984). The original tape recordings have been deposited with the Norwegian 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

page 92 

Russian forces came. They entered the village and put the bombs. When we 
came back, we found the dead bodies and the bombs, on door frames, under 
couches. I saw it myself." 29 

5.25 The hospitals of Peshawar and Quetta, centers of the refugee population in 
Pakistan, frequently received children and others who had lost limbs owing to 
antipersonnel mines. The Soviets distributed such mines from the air, usually by 
helicopter, or had them placed by ground troops. In addition, according to reports 
from both Laghman and Paktia provinces, mines were also being distributed from 
land-based artillery shells. In an interview in Peshawar on August 20, 1985, Syed Fazl 
Akbar (the former director of both Radio Kabul and the Pashto service of Radio 
Moscow, director of the Afghan Information and Documentation Centre in Peshawar 
at the time of the interview, and now the governor of Kunar province) described 
artillery shells distributing such mines in Paktia province during an offensive in 
August 1985. 30 

5.26 Human Rights Watch reported numerous testimonies of the damage wrought 
by mines resembling toys or everyday objects. While it now appears that the victims' 
descriptions of the objects may have been unintentionally misleading, the damage 
they wrought was nonetheless real: 

(a) "My friend picked one up and lost an arm. Then we understood why 
the pens were scattered all over the road. When the operations are over, they 
scatter these materials." 31 

(b) "In the cliffside house that serves as a base for my particular band of 
Muj [mujahidin], a young guerrilla medic works to save the mauled hand of a 
local 14-year-old boy. When the Soviet armor and paratroops were here last 
week, they left behind some booby-trapped toys, on the off chance there were 
some children left in Jegdeleg [Nangarhar province] to pick them up. This boy 
found a bright red plastic truck by the river and made the mistake of grabbing 
it. It must have been defective, because his hand — though a bloody, torn, 
skinless mess — still has all of its digits. The medic is washing and 
rebandaging it daily, trying to ward off infection." 32 

(c) "It happened to one of my relations in Kabul. About eighteen months 
ago this eight- or nine-year-old child was playing in the street near his home, 
near Microraion. He picked up something that looked like a toy, and it 
exploded." 33 

29 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 59. Muhammad Zahir, thirty-five, farmer from Qala-i 
Shadad, Jaghatu district, Ghazni province; interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Quetta, October 3, 

30 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan (New York: 1985) 34. At the time, the 
province of Paktia included the territory of today's Khost. 

31 Jeri Laber and Barnett R. Rubin, A Nation is Dying: Afghanistan Under the Soviets 1979-87 
(Evanston, 111.: Northwestern University Press, 1988) 135. Nur Beg, an elder from Darra-i Nur, near 
Jalalabad, Nangarhar province; interviewed in Peshawar, September 1986. 

32 Rob Schultheis, "Among the Believers: Face-to-Face with the MIGs in Afghanistan's Valley of 
Death," Mother Jones (November-December 1985): 46. 

33 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 63. Testimony of Shah Mahmud Basir, economist, 


5.27 Dr. Jacques David of Medecins sans Frontieres told Human Rights Watch on 
June 8, 1984, that while he was working at the dispensary in Jaghori in Hazarajat in 
1981 he had to amputate two fingers of a five-year-old boy who had picked up what 
looked like a toy. The boy's parents showed Dr. David the twisted and charred 
remnants of a small, red, metal object. 34 

5.28 Dr. Gilles Albanel of Aide Medicale Internationale testified at the March 1983 
Afghanistan Hearings in Oslo: 

"Prior to the offensive [of January 1983 in Logar] we were asked to see a 
person 60 years old who had picked up a fountain pen on the road and the next 
day wanted to see whether this fountain pen actually worked. It exploded in 
his hands. It was an antipersonnel mine. He had lost three fingers of his left 
hand." 35 

5.29 Kifayatullah, a farmer from Harioki Ulya, Kapisa province, described to 
Human Rights Watch the actions of the Soviet troops that invaded his village. "They 
put toy bombs in the food storage bins," he volunteered. "Some of them exploded. 
They were like toys, watches, pens." 36 

5.30 Hafizullah, of the same village, reported to Human Rights Watch, "There is a 
type of bomb like a radio. They leave it on a stand with a wire. If you touch it, or if 
your feet touch the wire, it goes off. If I had been there, I would have been killed, but 
I know people injured by mines left in the houses in my village. Some were killed, 
and others were handicapped." 37 Another refugee, from Bela in Nangarhar, described, 
amid a chorus of affirmation from fellow villagers who had gathered around him, how 
villagers has lost arms or legs when picking up objects that resembled pens or other 
common objects. 38 

interviewed in Quetta, October 3, 1984. 

34 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 60. 

35 International Afghanistan Hearing 19. 

36 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 62. 

37 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 62. The Soviet AP Directional Fragmentation Mine MON- 
50 has a form similar to a radio set. If the fuse was attached to a trip wire, it would resemble this 
description. See UNAMCP, Mines Recognition Handbook 68-69. 

38 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 62. 

page 94 

B. Other Prohibited Use of Weapons 

5.31 UN Special Rapporteur Ermacora found evidence of the use of fragmentation 

"The Special Rapporteur was informed of the use of bombs that were said to 
disperse hundreds of fragments similar to small blades. The use of such 
bombs has been confirmed by many wounded persons during the visits of the 
Special Rapporteur to hospitals." 39 

5.32 Professor Ermacora also referred to the use of bombs with "burning effects." 
He cited a study by an institute of the Austrian Ministry of Defense on weapons used 
in Afghanistan. Ermacora summarized its findings: 

"[The study] sheds light on the following types of weapons: liquid fire, fuel- 
air explosive cratering (FAEC) and fire sticks. The liquid fire is described as a 
black, tar-like substance dropped from aircraft in canisters, which open in the 
air spraying the ground with the substance, which remains effective for 
months and ignites upon contact producing gas. The fuel-air explosive 
cratering bombs are dropped by fighter planes and explode near the ground 
making craters 10 metres across and 6 metres deep. In his previous reports, 
the Special Rapporteur stated that the population called these bombs 'napalm 
bombs.' A fire stick is 30 centimetres long and 18 centimetres thick; a 
canister contains several thousand fire sticks and is detonated upon contact 
with the ground." 40 

5.33 Seynaeve was also one of a number of witnesses who described the use of 
incendiary bombs against civilians. He treated victims of what he called "burning 
bombs," which give off a kind of liquid that is presumably identical to what the 
Austrian study identified as "liquid fire." On May 29, 1985, the bomb, possibly 
aimed at a nearby mujahidin base, fell on a house where two families were living. 
Eight people were killed immediately, and six heavily burned victims were brought to 
the clinic, where one of them, an eleven-year-old boy, subsequently died of his 
injuries. 41 This description is consistent with descriptions in the Austrian Defense 
Ministry study, which noted that bombs consisting of "thousands of fire sticks" that 
were subsequently ignited with air to ground rockets were "used only against 
villages." 42 

5.34 Refugees who escaped from the massacre in Qarghai district of Laghman in 
1985 tried to describe a type of weapon that they claimed to have seen from a 
distance. From the description below, it appears to be a type of phosphorus bomb. 
Refugees described it to Human Rights Watch as a hand-held weapon like a lamp or a 

39 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/40/843, 1985) para. 54. UNAMCP, Mines Recognition Handbook 58-75 
includes nine types of antipersonnel fragmentation mines. 

40 E/CN. 4/1 986/24 para. 87. The study to which Ermacora referred was Flor, Afghanistan: Ein 
Kriegsgeschehen unter besonderen Verhaltnissen . 

41 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 15. 

Flor 114. 


bulb that could incinerate people and objects at short distances but that lost 
effectiveness quickly with distance. One witness claimed that Soviet troops used the 
weapon to burn people who had hidden in caves in Laghman. In another case it was 
reportedly used in the summary execution of civilians in Garuch and Badpakh villages 
of Laghman. 43 Another witness reported that he saw the Soviets train the weapon on 
the villages of Alishang and Kalacha from positions in the surrounding area, but that 
it had little effect at that distance. 44 This may have been a description of a "wholly 
new type" of bomb described in the Austrian report: 

"A barrel 2.5 meters long, surrounded by six two-meter long magnesium- 
phosphorus rods. At impact, the liquid in the barrel is ignited. The rods catch 
fire and develop, according to eyewitnesses, a heat that is enough to melt 
stones." 45 

5.35 Borje Almquist, the Swedish journalist who visited eastern Afghanistan in 
December 1983, also saw what he called "a kind of firebomb": 

"In the village of Logali Piran, adjoining the district of Tani [in what was then 
Paktia and is now Khost] there were remains of the firebomb. It consisted of 
some sort of petrol-based material and phosphorus in flat cakes on the ground. 
When hitting the 'cakes,' the cakes began to burn, and this was about ten days 
after the village was bombed with firebombs and explosive bombs in the first 
week of October 1983." 46 

5.36 This account resembles the description in the Austrian report of "liquid fire," 
which "refers to a black tar-like substance that is thrown from the ground in 
containers, which open in mid-air and release large drops. This substance remains on 
the ground, appears to be sedentary, and is operative for months. When it is stepped 
on or driven over, the drops ignite in a sudden burst, the flames shoot high and burn 
continually, producing nausea-inducing smoke." 47 

5.37 In his first report in 1985, Special Rapporteur Ermacora devoted a whole 
section to the "Use of poison gases." 48 He stated: 

(a) "The Special Rapporteur found evidence of this in the camps and 
refugee hospitals at Quetta and Peshawar where he had direct talks with 
wounded persons who alleged that they had been the victims of poison gases. 

43 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 30-3 1 . Testimony of Said Muhammad, son 
of Gul Muhammad, farmer, thirty-six, of Umarzai village, central Laghman province; interviewed in 
Munda refugee camp, NWFP, August 21, 1985. 

44 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 3 1-32. Testimony of Ataullah, son of 
Mullah Abdullah, mullah, forty-eight to fifty, Kalacha village, central Laghman; interviewed in Munda 
refugee camp, August 21, 1985. 

45 Flor 112. 

46 Borje Almquist, Letter to Amnesty International, Eskilstuna, Sweden, 1984. 
47 Flor 110. 

E/CN.4/1 986/24 para. 117-118. 

page 96 

(b) "Several concordant reports alleged the poisoning of the water, cereals 
and livestock, the use of chemical agents, and the explosion of bombs 
producing gases of various colours with an incendiary effect." 

5.38 He later reported: 

"Several witnesses reported that the armed forces had used gas, a greenish- 
coloured substance, against members of opposition forces hiding in 
underground passages or karez. The substance reportedly caused serious 
injuries. The use of chemical weapons has been reported in four instances in 
Konduz, Paktia, Kabul and Vardak Provinces." 49 

5.39 The account in the previous chapter of the massacre in Padkhwab-i Shana, 
Logar, included a description of Soviet soldiers emptying bags of some substance into 
a karez and then exploding it alight with Kalashnikov fire. Almquist relayed an 
account of a similar delivery system for gas, recounted to him by a commander from 
Kunduz in July 1983. The commander was reported to have described the following 
as having occurred during an attack (date not given) on his base by Soviet forces: 

"Helicopters parachuted some sort of bags, and the Russians fired on the bags, 
exploding in mid-air, releasing some sort of grey-yellow gas. Some of us 
became very tired and we had to kick them to get them up. Two of us had to 
be left behind when we were forced to leave the base and get away from the 
gas. They had fallen unconscious. All the 260 mujahidin in the base were 
affected by the gas, and we all felt more or less tired. Our skin was irritated 
and we had to different extents difficulties walking straight. The red skin 
irritation continued for three months and especially the legs and buttocks had 
small and itchy spots, of a diameter of two millimetres." 50 

5.40 The report from the Austrian Ministry of Defense noted that reports of 
chemical agents were "not sufficiently documented, but together corroborate the 
probability of such use." The report mentioned the use of several substances in 
"deadly and non-deadly doses," including nerve agents, Phosgene Oxime, and 
Mycotoxin Trichothecene ("yellow rain"). These were reported to be distributed 
through "chemical bombs," ground munitions, rockets, spraying apparatuses, 
chemical landmines, and shells. The study stated that no "massive reports" of the use 
of chemical war agents in Afghanistan were known after 1982. 51 

C. Abuses of Captured Combatants 

5.41 From reports Human Rights Watch received, it seemed apparent that 
combatants on both sides assumed they would be killed if taken prisoner. 52 Attempts 
by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) starting in 1981 to negotiate 
prisoner exchanges met with some initial cooperation from the resistance forces, some 

49 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/41/778, 1986) para. 59. 

50 Almquist. 

51 Flor 119-120. 

52 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries . 


of which transferred Soviet prisoners to ICRC custody. The mujahidin expected 
Kabul to allow ICRC access to government prisoners in return, but the DRA 
continued to ban access by humanitarian and human rights groups until 1987. Hence 
the mujahidin informally suspended participation. 

5.42 Special Rapporteur Ermacora observed that "Armed members of opposition 
movements are killed on the spot." 53 Amnesty International reported a case in which 
"Soviet and Afghan troops are reported to have blown up a dozen captured and bound 
guerrillas in a mosque in Kolalgu village in Paktia province in January 1988. Nine 
died and three survived." 54 

5.43 Former Soviet soldiers confirmed this policy. According to Sgt. Igor Rykov, a 
Soviet Army defector interviewed in Le Monde . June 3-4, 1984, "We did not take any 
prisoners of war. None." Former Soviet Army Pvt. Nikolai Ryzhov, when asked how 
Soviet forces treated Afghan prisoners, replied, "They destroy [unichtozhayut] 
them." 55 

5.44 A Soviet soldier told reporter Svetlana Alexievich in September 1986: 

"We captured some terrorists and interrogated them: 'Where are your arms 
dumps?' No answer. Then we took a couple of them up in helicopters: 
'Where are they? Show us! ' No answer. We threw one of them on to the 
rocks. . . ." 56 

5.45 A Soviet military adviser reminisced: 

"I got out the photo album and showed a few slides. Helicopters hovering 
over a village, a wounded man being laid on a stretcher, with his leg next to 
him, still in its trainer, POWs sentenced to death gazing innocently into the 
camera lens — they were dead ten minutes later . . . Allah Akbar — allah is 
great!" 57 

5.46 A former Soviet Army private going by the pseudonym "Jamalbekov" 
witnessed the following incident in February 1982, while he was stationed with a 
company of the 121st Brigade, headquartered in Mazar-i Sharif, at a post on the road 
between Rabatak and Samangan in Samangan province in northern Afghanistan. His 
commander, Captain Rudenko, from Zhdanov, Ukraine, captured twelve suspected 
mujahidin, two of whom were armed: 

53 E/CN.4/1 986/24 para. 98. 

54 Amnesty International, Soviet and Afghan Government Forces in Apparent Policy of Killing 
Refugees . ASA 1 1/05/88, May 4, 1988. At that time Paktia province included what today are the two 
provinces of Paktia and Khost. 

55 Public meeting in New Haven, Connecticut, February 27, 1984. Helsinki, Tears. Blood, and Cries 

56 Alexievich 6. 

57 Alexievich 32. 

page 98 

"Capt. Rudenko was drunk. It was about four or five o'clock in the afternoon. 
They took [the prisoners'] weapons and ammunition, searched them and took 
some knives, everything they had. Then they tied them up, laid them down in 
the road, and Capt. Rudenko gave the order to drive the APCs over them. I 
saw the vehicles coming back all covered with blood. Once they kill them, 
they are just meat, and they left them for the jackals to come at night. They 
just cleared them off the road and dropped the bodies beside the road. At nine 
o'clock the commander was even more drunk, and he went back again. He cut 
off the head of one body, a mullah with a long beard. He brought the head 
back and said, 'Look, I've brought some fish.' He gave it to one of the soldiers 
with some gasoline. The whole night they were pouring gasoline on the head 
and burning it, and in the morning it was just ash." 58 

5.47 Former Soviet Army Pvt. Vladislav Naumov had just finished repairing two 
combat vehicles in a post on the Kabul- Jalalabad road in May 1983 when he heard 
some cursing. 

"Two soldiers were chasing a man whose hands were tied. The man's face was 
swollen, there were fresh scratches, his mouth was bleeding. They brought the 
Afghan prisoner to the tanks and forced him to his knees. 'Well, what shall we 
do with him?' Two noncommissioned officers had arrived. They were drunk. 
One of them looked at the Afghan and said with a wicked smile, 'This beast is 
unworthy of prison. He must be shot.' 'No,' mumbled the second one, 'He 
should be hung upside down in the sun. Then he'll realize who he attacked.' 
But then a lieutenant arrived. The soldiers reported they had arrested a 
dushman [enemy]. 'Good,' said the officer. 'We'll settle accounts. Shoot him. 
Bring an automatic rifle.' The Afghan understood what was about to happen, 
and he started to say something in his language, but no one listened to him. 
We were all around, waiting to see what would happen. One of the soldiers 
came back and said that all the rifles were locked up. 'Too bad,' said the 
officer. 'We'll have to manage without bullets. Bring him over to the cannon.' 
The officer climbed up on the turret. The soldiers stuck the tied hands of the 
Afghan into the barrel of the gun. 'Move aside,' hollered the officer. 'Fire.' 
When the smoke dissipated, there was no trace of the Afghan. Everyone left. I 
was waiting in line for tea to eat with my porridge, when suddenly a sergeant 
next to me started yelling, 'Go away, you filthy beast! ' I didn't understand 
right away. Then I saw a dog with a piece of meat in his mouth. It was the arm 
of the man we had just killed." 59 

5.48 Former Soviet Army Sgt. Igor Rykov testified: 

"Generally we killed [prisoners] on the spot. As soon as we caught them, the 
officers ordered us to slaughter them. I'll tell you one story. Lt. Gevorkian was 
the commander of my unit. When I arrived, he had already been in 
Afghanistan for a year. He told us that he had seen a lot, and that now he had 

58 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 173. Interview in Peshawar, September 21, 1984. There are 
other reports of captured fighters being crushed under combat vehicles. For instance, Agence France 
Presse reported from Islamabad on February 18, 1981, that twenty suspected insurgents had been 
crushed under tanks in the Tangi Valley. 

59 Le Monde . June 3^1, 1984, cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 172. 


become like ice, he had learned to kill absolutely anyone, and he had to teach 
the same to the soldiers. One day he brought in a boy, an Afghan kid about 
fourteen years old. He told us that the boy was certainly a dushman; he had 
tried to run away when he saw the soldiers. There was one soldier in our unit, 
Oleg Sotnik, who could not stand the sight of blood. Then Gevorkian took out 
a sort of bayonet — it had been mounted on a carbine; it looked like a dagger, 
and Gevorkian always carried it. He gave this knife to Sotnik and told him to 
kill the boy. Sotnik' s face was unbelievable. He was planted to the ground, 
shaking all over his body. The boy was sitting peacefully on the ground. 
Finally Sotnik got control of himself, went up to the boy, and stuck the knife 
in his chest. The boy started to shriek, and he grabbed onto Sotnik's hands. 
Then Gevorkian started yelling, 'You idiot! What do you think you're doing? 
Watch how it should be done! ' He pulled out the knife, kicked the boy in the 
face, and when the boy fell backward from the kick, he stuck the knife in his 
throat, once, twice. We were all around watching, but no one said anything." 60 

5.49 Kifayatullah, a farmer from the Kohistan region of Kapisa province, 
interviewed in Peshawar on September 23, 1984, by Human Rights Watch, described 
what happened after a Soviet-Afghan offensive in his region two and a half years 

"The Russians came with a few Parchamis. They took authority and captured 
people. Those who escaped attacked them again. The Russians took more 
prisoners. The people who didn't surrender to them they took to the bank of 
the river and shot." 61 

D. Rape and Mistreatment of Women 

5.50 Afghans are generally reluctant to discuss the subject of rape. From the 
sketchy evidence some human rights organizations collected, it appears that rape by 
Soviet soldiers was not systematic but the occasional result of unrestrained behavior 
by an undisciplined army. 62 

5.51 Reports of rape began circulating in 1980, when Le Monde reported 
(December 19, 1980) that the discovery on December 12 of the bodies of two 
schoolgirls abducted, raped, and killed by Soviet soldiers led to demonstrations the 
following day. While these incidents were never reported in the official press, the 
government tried to assure the people by broadcasting from loudspeakers mounted on 
trucks that the guilty soldiers would be sent back to the USSR and tried. 63 

5.52 A man from Jalalabad testified about rapes during the 1985 killings in 
Laghman. He had a friend named Gul Haidar in the village of Charbagh (which is 
named in all accounts of the massacres), where the Afghan Information Centre 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 173. 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 174. 

Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 39-45. 

Le Monde . December 19, 1980. 

page 100 

reported thirty-five dead (see the previous chapter). When the man heard that his 
friend had been killed, he went to Charbagh to help the surviving members of Gul 
Haidar's family. Recounting this story, he reportedly burst into tears and said: 

"At Charbagh the neighbors of Gul Haidar told me that when the Russians 
went inside his house, his wife was in the process of giving birth to a child. 
After the departure of the Soviet troops, the neighbors found everybody dead: 
bullet holes all over Gul Haidar's body, his wife and her belly torn open and 
the newborn baby horribly mutilated." 64 

5.53 Another refugee from the same massacre testified: 

"In Shahmangal, the Russians took pregnant women and asked them, 'What's 
in your stomach? A grenade? A mine?' The woman would turn her face away, 
because Afghan people don't talk like that. The Russian said, 'There's a hand 
grenade or mine in your stomach.' Then they took bayonets and stabbed them 
in the stomach, killing the unborn baby and the mother." 65 

5.54 Ataullah, son of Mullah Abdullah, Kalacha village, Laghman, reported another 
case from the same area in 1984: 

'"Last year in Jauza [May- June] they took twenty-one old people from 
Alishang to another village — Ren village. They covered their eyes with plastic 
and killed them. They had some money with them, so they took the money and 
killed them. When they came back to the village [Alishang], they raped the 
ladies and killed the children with bayonets. They tried to rape Ghulam Ali's 
wife, but she escaped. They raped Mahmadullah's wife, Razaq's wife. When 
some ladies escaped from them they killed the children with bayonets [he 
demonstrated two upward strokes of a bayonet] and kicked the bodies, just to 
play with them, a girl eight years old and a boy five years old.' The girl was 
Siddiqa, daughter of his brother, Aminullah. The boy was his own son, 
Mirwais." 66 

5.55 Anders Fange, then the country director of the the Swedish Committee for 
Afghanistan, reported rapes in the Amal district of Kunduz in April or May (Sawr) of 
1984/1363, which he reconstructed from accounts by refugees he met inside 
Afghanistan on July 29, 1984. In the early morning he encountered a caravan of 
"about 5,000 people" crossing the Kantiwa pass in upper Panjshir, including "camels, 
old ladies, eight- and nine-year-old children carrying babies. The camels were falling 
down, the donkeys were screaming." These people from Amal subdistrict of Kunduz 
were fleeing to Pakistan after a Soviet offensive in their area. A man named Abdul 
Ma'ruf described the usual atrocities: "The Soviet troops had burned the fields, 
destroyed food, robbed people of money, and, in an incident corroborated by several 
witnesses, cut the throats of twelve children one by one while asking villagers for 
money." Fange also related, "This was one of the few occasions when men told me 

64 Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin 51 (June 1985): 6. 

65 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 40. Testimony of refugee from Qarghai 
district, Laghman; unpublished interview with Rob Schultheis. 

66 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 41. Testimony of Ataullah, son of Mullah 
Abdullah, Kalacha village, Laghman; interviewed in Munda refugee camp, NWFP, August 21, 1985. 


that their women had been raped. They don't like to say it. I checked the story with 
others. It differed in some details, but mainly it was the same." 67 

5.56 Survivors of the December 1984 massacres in Chardara district, Kunduz, told 
Dr. Juliette Fournot of Soviet soldiers disemboweling three pregnant women with 
bayonets. During searches the previous week a number of women had reportedly been 

5.57 Ghausuddin, one of Afghanistan's best-known painters, came across a 
combination of rape by Soviet soldiers and honor killing by an Afghan family while 
fleeing to Pakistan in 1985. He recounted this story to Human Rights Watch in his 
exile home and studio in Islamabad: 

"When I was coming to Pakistan, in Musavi, there was someone crying. I 
asked, 'What happened?' He said that there was someone who had been going 
to Kabul. From the other direction a Russian convoy was coming, and the 
Soviets stopped his bus. During the search a Soviet uncovered his wife's face. 
As she had gotten married recently, they laughed at her and took her away 
from her husband. Her husband tried everything he could to get her back, but 
they told him, 'Tomorrow at eight o'clock we'll bring you your wife here.' 
The boy went home and informed his parents. Next day in the morning, he 
came there with a big knife, waiting for the Soviets. When the tank arrived, the 
woman was set down from the tank. She was injured, and her face was 
bruised. She told her husband, 'I have lost everything. I have lost honor. Kill 
me.' He started to kill her. The Soviets fired at him with Kalashnikovs. His 
parents, who wanted to take revenge for him, were holding an ax, in his 
father's hand, but they could not take revenge. Instead they were shot dead by 
the Soviets. All were buried there. Peace be upon them." 68 

5.58 A number of refugees from Kabul reported rapes and attempted rapes by 
Soviet soldiers in or near Kabul. A young woman working as a nurse at an obstetrics 
hospital for Afghan refugee women in Peshawar said that her father decided to leave 
Afghanistan because of the threat of rape by Soviet soldiers engaged in searches 
during April-May 1984 (Sawr 1363): 

"We left [Kabul] because a group of Russians, about eleven or twelve of them, 
coming from Kolula Pushta and Bagh-i Bala [areas in western Kabul] started 
to search houses. Then they came to Taimani and reached Mu-i Mubarak [a 
shrine housing a hair of the prophet in the Taimani neighborhood of western 
Kabul]. They were searching in Taimani [where the witness lived], and in five 
houses they attempted rape. There was no Afghan government guide with 
them, only one Hazara boy, who was seventeen or sixteen years old, and it 
looked like they had paid him to show them the houses. They were trying to 
steal the valuable things from the people and tried to rape them. So when my 

67 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 41. Interview in Peshawar, August 16, 1985. 

68 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 4\-A2. Testimony of Ghausuddin, seventy- 
three, artist; interviewed in Islamabad, August 28, 1985. 

page 102 

father found that they were searching the houses and committing these crimes, 
he decided to leave Afghanistan." 69 

5.59 The nurse reported several other incidents of rape and attempted rape: 

(a) "At the beginning of 1363 [around March-April 1984], three ladies 
were walking early in the morning in Khairkhana [in northwestern Kabul] to 
go to the hamam [bathhouse]. They were taken to a tank and disappeared for a 
month. Their husbands were searching for them. After that one of the ladies 
was found, and she lived for only an hour and a half more. She told about what 
happened to the others, and then she died. She said that the other two had been 
with her, receiving the same treatment, so they had also died. These were 
Russians who had taken them. The residence of these ladies was in Qala-i 
Najaran in Khairkhana, and I was also living there at the time. This story is the 
truth, but I don't know their names. 

(b) "Near Mu-i Mubarak, in Taimani ward, three girls were walking along 
the road, and a Russian tank came up from behind them and stopped. They 
tried to put the girls in the tank. When they took one girl, she fought back, and 
there were some boys, students, maybe from the Teachers' Training College or 
some faculty, and they came to help the girls. Those students got some sticks 
from nearby shops. Then a jeep came up behind the tank, and a crowd 
gathered to see what was going on. So they didn't manage to get the girls in 
the tank. From the Russian jeep they started shooting. Two of the girls were 
killed, a vegetable seller was killed, a shopkeeper, and another girl was 
wounded, and eleven students were killed, and some other people walking 
along the road were also injured. I saw this with my own eyes in Mu-i 
Mubarak, Taimani ward, as I told you before, in Jauza 1362 [May- June 
1983]." 70 

5.60 Others also recounted such stories. A former teacher said that one afternoon 
in the summer of 1983, a soldier in a Soviet armored personnel carrier kidnapped a 
Hindu girl student walking home from Zarghuna Lycee, a well-known girls' school, 
after which she disappeared. 71 A former military communications officer who owned 
land in Deh Sabz, east of Kabul near the airport, said that a Soviet helicopter landed 
near a spring there where women draw water. The soldiers kidnapped two young 
women and flew off. "Three days later," he said, "a helicopter appeared and dropped 
the bodies of these girls from the air." 72 Another refugee said he had seen Russian 
soldiers try to kidnap young women on their way to a hamam (bathhouse) in 
Khairkhana in northwest Kabul in the winter of 1 98 1 . Some vegetable sellers 

69 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 42. 

70 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 43. Testimony of Fariba Hamidi, twenty- 
one, nurse of Taimani ward, Kabul; interviewed in Peshawar, August 22, 1985. 

71 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 44. Testimony of former teacher from 
Kabul; interviewed in Peshawar, August 25, 1985. 

72 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 44. Testimony of former military 
communications officer; interviewed in Peshawar, August 25, 1985. 


attacked the Soviets with shovels, and two of them were killed, but the women 
escaped. 73 

5.61 Women arrested by KhAD were not only tortured just like the men but were 
also sometimes subjected to rape and sexual abuse, though this did not appear to be 
common or systematic. One former woman prisoner, Fahima Nassery, noticed a 
specific abuse of pregnant women prisoners: 

"One of the things that struck me the most was that when pregnant women 
were taken to the hospital [from prison] to give birth, they were brought back 
with their children, but as soon as they came back, they started interrogating 
them again. As a result of tortures, they had problems and couldn't nurse their 
babies." 74 

5.62 The UN Special Rapporteur reported that the techniques of torture used by 
KhAD included "raping women, tying their hands and feet and introducing a variety 
of objects into the vagina." 75 Professor Ermacora reported some specific cases: 

(a) "105. Several reports referred not only to torture and ill-treatment 
inflicted on women but to degrading treatment undergone by many of them. 
The Special Rapporteur took particular note of cases of women who had been 
raped in the presence of members of their families. One witness mentioned 
the case of one Said Rafik, killed by soldiers because he had intervened to 
prevent his daughter from being raped by a soldier. 

(b) "106. In his testimony, a former officer of the security police stated 
that he himself had witnessed a scene in March 1980 on the premises of the 
Ministry of the Interior at Kabul, where a husband had been obliged to watch 
the rape of his wife, who was eight months pregnant." 76 

E. Killing and Abuse of Children 

5.63 Children were among the most victimized in the Afghan struggle. Professor 
Ermacora "was also able to obtain a number of photographs, especially those of 
children between 8 and 15 years of age, with hands of legs blown off, either by 
handling booby-trap toys or during the explosion of mines. Some of them had bullet 
wounds received during checks or searches carried out in the villages, or during 
bombing while on their way to seek refuge in Pakistan." 77 He described cases of six 
children aged six to fourteen being treated for serious wounds whom he had 
interviewed in hospitals. The deterioration of the fragile health system and of 

73 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 45. Testimony of Ata-ur- Rahman Dadgar, 
interviewed in Peshawar, September 22, 1984. 

74 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 45. 

75 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1985/21) para. 86. 

76 E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 105-6. 

77 A/40/843 (1985) para. 93. 

page 104 

nutrition also had disastrous effects. Ermacora reported in 1985 that the infant 
mortality rate had risen to three hundred to four hundred per thousand. 78 

5.64 Children were reportedly bombed in their schools and during religious 
instruction in the mosques and shot while fleeing to caves in the mountains or en 
route to refuge in Pakistan or Iran. There were reports of children burned alive in 
locked rooms, their charred bodies unrecognizable by their parents. Unborn children 
were bayoneted to death in their mothers' wombs. 79 Tajwar Kakar, who today is the 
Deputy Minister of Women's Affairs in the Afghan government, told a Human Rights 
Watch researcher of a reprisal killing by Soviet soldiers that she witnessed in Kunduz 
in February 1984: 

"A tank exploded, the work of mujahidin. The Russians then went into a small 
village and began to slaughter people. Women and children were bayoneted. 
They asked the mothers: who placed the mine? When they wouldn't talk, they 
bayoneted the children. In every house, it was the same . . . children in cradles 
and children who could walk. I arrived right after it happened and saw it 
myself." 80 

5.65 On September 10, 1986, Professor Felix Ermacora, the UN Human Rights 
Commission's Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, visited the Said Gi transit camp in 
North Waziristan, on the Afghan border. While he was there, Afghan jets bombed a 
caravan of refugees that was approaching the border en route to Pakistan. The 
Pakistani official who accompanied Ermacora later described the scene: 

"We could hear the strafing and see the smoke. After forty-five minutes we 
saw the dead bodies coming in. There was a small child whose mother had 
died, about eleven or twelve months old. He was tied to a horse and his 
grandfather was riding with him." 81 

5.66 A Washington Post correspondent reported from inside Afghanistan: 

(a) "In October [1985] the Soviets and Afghan Army troops staged a four- 
day sweep through Barakat [Ghazni province] and nearby villages, killing 20 
people and taking 12 young men to serve in the Afghan Army, villagers said. 

(b) "A young man from nearby Bedmoshk told a horrifying tale of Soviets 
who held a 14-year-old boy and slowly killed him when his parents would not 
pay a ransom. 'They tied him to a tree and beat him and stabbed him with a 
bayonet,' the man said. 'Finally they shot him.'" 82 

78 A/40/843 (1985) para. 110. He may have meant the child (under five) mortality rate, which stood at 
257 per thousand in 2003 ( Securing Afghanistan's Future: Accomplishment and the Strategic Path 
Forward , prepared for International Conference on Afghanistan, Berlin, March 31, 2004). 

79 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan . 

80 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, To Win the Children 4. Testimony of Tajwar Kakar, who was then 
a thirty-eight-year-old schoolteacher, describing a February 1984 reprisal operation in Kunduz 
province, interviewed in Peshawar in September 1986. 

81 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, To Win the Children 5. Interview in North Waziristan, September 


5.67 Many Afghan children became displaced within their own country, driven 
from their homes and villages and herded into cities, where they lived confused and 
impoverished lives. Millions more made the arduous journey to Pakistan, where they 
lived in camps, without purpose or direction. Many of the children had to walk for 
weeks or even months before finding refuge. They were without possessions, tired, 
often hungry. They bore visible scars of war — wounds, burns, amputated limbs, 
blindness — and there was anguish in their words. 83 

(a) A thirteen-year-old boy from Shamali, Kabul: "My brother was taken 
under a tree and shot. Then they went inside. They killed my father and 
mother and wounded my sister. That was four years ago. I saw it all with my 

own eyes." 84 

(b) A ten-year-old boy from Nuristan: "I was conscious when I saw my 
house burning, but after the next bomb was thrown, I remember nothing." 85 

(c) An eight-year-old boy from Taluqan, Takhar: "When I came back, 
there was no village. I was the only one left. When I saw this I cried, cried and 
wept. When the planes left, the mujahidin came back and said not to cry, they 
would be my father." 86 

5.68 Atiqullah, a ten-year-old refugee, had recently begun school in Pakistan when 
he was interviewed. He described how he had watched while his grandmother and 
aunt were stabbed with bayonets in their homes and then shot: 

"We were standing right there. I was shouting and crying. He said something 
to us in Russian. We didn't understand. They pointed their rifles at us to keep 
us quiet." 87 

5.69 The Lawyers Association of Free Afghanistan (LAFA) reported in a bulletin 
published in 1990 that it had interviewed a twelve-year-old, Hakim Khan, who 
survived an attack by Soviet soldiers that killed seventeen unarmed people in Arghach 
village, Khugiani district, Nangarhar province, in September 1985. Among those 
killed were eleven women and children in his cousin's house, including a bride 
married a week earlier. Hakim Khan, who was studying in a school for orphans in a 

82 James Rupert, "Depopulation Campaign Brutally Changes Villages," The Washington Post . January 
15, 1986: A26. 

83 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, To Win the Children 6. 

84 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, To Win the Children 3. Muhammad Zahir, thirteen years old, from 
Shamali; interviewed in Peshawar in September 1986. 

85 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, To Win the Children 3. Abdul Qudus, ten years old, from Nuristan, 
Kunar province; interviewed in Peshawar in September 1986. Nuristan has since become a separate 

86 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, To Win the Children 14. Abdul Karim, eight years old, from 
Taluqan, Takhar province; interviewed in Peshawar in September 1986. 

87 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, To Win the Children 16. 

page 106 

Pakistan refugee camp, stated that his future goal was to "slaughter all the Soviets and 
take revenge for the deaths of his family." 88 

5.70 Another incident was reported by the Afghan Information Centre in its August 
1984 Monthly Bulletin . When Human Rights Watch questioned the Centre's director, 
Professor S. B. Majrooh, about it in Peshawar, he assured Human Rights Watch that 
several witnesses had confirmed the truth of the report. 89 

(a) "Outside the village [of Lalma in Nangarhar, on August 2, 1984] a 10- 
to 12-year-old boy was watching his cows graze. He was playing with a toy — 
a roughly made small, wooden gun, which with the help of a rubber device 
was making little 'tok-tok' noises like a machine gun. When the Russians 
arrived, the boy pointed his 'tok-toking' toy in the direction of the advancing 
tanks. The boy was encircled and brought to the village. He was interrogated 
in front of the terrified villagers. The eyewitnesses heard the following 

A Russian asked: 'What is that in your hand?' 

The boy answered: 'It's my gun.' 

'What do you want to do with the gun?' 

'To kill the enemies.' 

'Who are the enemies?' 

'The ones who are not leaving us in our homes.' 

(b) "It was evident that by 'home' the boy did not mean Homeland, 
Country, or such things, and by 'us' he was referring to himself and his 
parents. 'Nothing serious,' said the man from Lalma and added: 'But still a 
Russian seized the boy and another one took a sickle from a villager and with 
a powerful and quick movement of the hand, he cut open the boy's throat and 
threw the sickle away. It all happened very fast. The parents were not present. 
Then one of the Russians did a strange thing: he dragged the dead boy to 
higher ground, covered him with a rug, and put a bed upside down on the 
body.'" 90 

5.71 A refugee from Laghman province told journalist Rob Schultheis about 
atrocities against children in the course of the April 1985 massacres in Laghman 
during an interview in Munda refugee camp, NWFP, in May 1985: 

88 Lawyers' Association of Free Afghanistan, "17 Killed in Two Families," Human Rights Bulletin 
(1990) 06/04. 

89 On the assassination of Professor Majrooh, see Chapter 7. 

90 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 50-5 1 . A note in the Bulletin added: "At first the editor was 
suspicious about the sickle and thought the reporter, by using the famous symbol, was perhaps looking 
for effect. But the eyewitness is a simple villager and does not seem to have any idea about the 
symbolism. The report was re-checked, and it appears that the deadly sickle does actually exist." 


(a) "My name is Shir Dal, I am from the Kats area. I lost four members of 
my family — my sister's children, her husband, and her. The only thing left 
alive was one calf — they even killed chickens, pigeons, everything alive they 
killed. . . . When the Russians came, the children were hiding in a cave. One 
Parchami Communist man was with them, and helped bring the children out, 
and they burned them to death. . . . The children who were killed, their parents 
could not recognize them, because they were burned. They made fires with 
wood, and put the children in them, or put kerosene on children and burned 
them. Sometimes they killed children and then burned them, and sometimes 
they burned them alive. They were taking children out to the fields and 
burning them alive, and they put them in the rushes and burned them alive. 
Burned alive. . . . 

(b) "They hung one two- or three-week-old baby boy in a tree, bayoneted 
him and made the parents watch while they burned him; when the baby was 
dead, they shot the parents. One half-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl, 
my sister's children, were killed. It was very cruel. They killed many people, 
and this is a story people should not forget." 91 

5.72 Soviet soldiers, too, shaken and hardened as they sometimes became, were 
moved by the plight of Afghan children. A major from an artillery regiment 

(a) "We were on the road to Jalalabad. A little girl, about seven, was 
standing by the side of the road. She had a broken arm hanging down, like the 
arm of an old rag doll dangling by a bit of thread. Her olive eyes stared and 
stared at me. I jumped out of the car to pick her up and take her to our 
hospital but she was in a state of sheer terror, like a little wild animal. She 
leapt away from me screaming, with her little arm still dangling, looking as 
though it would drop off at any moment. I ran after her, I was shouting too. I 
caught up with her and clutched her to me, stroked her. She started biting and 
scratching, then shaking, as though some other wild animal had caught her. I 
suddenly realized she thought I was going to kill her. 

"A stretcher went past with an old Afghan women lying on it, smiling. 

'"Where's she been wounded?' someone asked. 

"Tn the heart,' the nurse answered. 

"I went to Afghanistan full of enthusiasm. I thought I could do 
something useful out there. I expected to be needed by the people. 
Now all I remember is how the little girl ran away from me, trembling, 
how frightened she was of me. It's something I'll never forget. 

Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 41. 

page 108 

"I never dreamt about the war while I was there. Now I'm scared to go 
to sleep at night. I keep chasing that little girl with her olive eyes and 
her dangling arm. . . ," 92 

5.73 Dr. Muhammad Azam Dadfar, an Afghan psychiatrist, established a clinic in 
Peshawar in 1986, initially with the idea of treating former victims of torture for post- 
traumatic stress syndrome, but he soon found a vast range of psychological problems 
among the refugee population. Children suffered the most. He wrote in 1988: 

(a) "For nine years, Afghan children whether they live in the cities or in 
the villages, have led a life full of fear and disturbances of mind. Because they 
have been witness to vigorous desolation and insecurity, the majority of them 
have a sad destiny who have seen heart-sickening scenes. 

(b) "Witnessing severe bombardments on villages and on civilian houses, 
witnessing ruins, deaths and injured persons, depending mostly on children 
relatives and family members, and witnessing the wild slaughter of male 
figures in front of their eyes, witnessing their parents being tortured and 
insulted by the invaders and remembering the responsible members of their 
families could not come back after being arrested. 

(c) "Poverty and scarcity because of burning the crops and the harvests, 
lack of social facilities because of problems of transportation between the 
cities and villages, stresses and fear of forced migration and escaping to the 
neighbouring countries, danger and rescues of falling into an ambush, having 
lost the family members and fellow travellers during the escape and the 
physical defects caused by bombs and mines." 93 

5.74 Dadfar listed many of the problems suffered by refugee children: 

(a) The physical stress, chronic disease, and poor sanitation of refugee life 
that "cause the children to grow physically and mentally weak and 

(b) The lack of education and high incidence of mental retardation; 

(c) Collective post-traumatic reactions from war and refugee life, causing 
"psychogenic reaction and anxiety disorders." 

(d) Psychosocial stresses from high mortality, unemployment, poverty, 
"the breaking of the family and social hierarchy," dispersion of families and 
absence of fathers, and feelings of humiliation and lack of respect for children, 
all causing "depressive reaction, emotional disorders and feelings of 
helplessness with social withdrawal." 

(e) Separation from important love objects, as many children had lost 
parents; the longing of the adults for the lost motherland, which caused 

92 Alexievich 88. 

93 Muhammad Azam Dadfar, The Impaired Mind (Peshawar: Psychiatry Centre for Afghan Refugees, 
1990) 32. 


children to show anxiety; "[loss of] interest in his migration environment," 
which has no future prospect for the individual. 

(f) Anxiety disorders and depressive reactions of parents that led children 
who identified with them to "a depressive reaction along with anxiety 
disorders." Parents became either apathetic or aggressive toward their 
children, with a high level of abuse, which in turn made parents feel guilty. 
Hypersensitive parents told children to keep silent and forbade them to play. 

(g) Rejection and depreciation due to the depression of parents who 
neglect their children and the social isolation within the refugee camps. This 
was even more common among girls, leading to a high rate of elective mutism. 
Dadfar observed, "The problem is so great the children are unable to find 
suitable words to describe their anxiety. Perhaps, it is the anxious tongue of a 
generation whose future is unknown." 94 

F. Destruction of the Rural Economy 

5.75 Professor Ermacora reported: 

(a) "The efforts of the Afghan authorities are directed primarily against the 
economic structures that form the basis of the rural population's survival. 
Thus the authorities are slaughtering cattle, destroying irrigation systems and 
putting pressure on the small number of farmers to collaborate with the 
authorities and send their children into the military, or else risk having their 
harvests destroyed." 95 

(b) "In addition to human casualties many witnesses, on reaching their 
place of refuge in Pakistan, have reported devastation and the destruction of 
fields and livestock. The Special Rapporteur's attention was also drawn to the 
destruction of irrigation systems in provinces as a result of aerial 
bombardments which have prevented any repairs from being made and have 
completely obliterated agriculture in several regions." 96 

5.76 In the Panjshir Valley, for instance, he reported that "80 percent of the houses 
have been destroyed." 97 

5.77 Among the actions that made the greatest impression on Afghans were the 
destruction and desecration of mosques and copies of the Holy Quran. Professor 
Ermacora reported: 

"According to a number of witnesses, mosques have been desecrated, religious 
books destroyed and in some cases even used as toilet paper, while members 
of the Islamic faith have been obliged to eat pork and to drink alcohol. One 

Dadfar, The Impaired Mind 34-37. 
A/41/778 (1986) para. 94. 
A/40/843 (1985) para. 87. 
A/40/843 (1985) para. 105. 

page 110 

witness from Qulq, a village in the province of Kandahar, has described his 
feelings, based on an experience in February 1985, as follows: 'By destroying 
religious books and acting in that way, they hoped that Moslems would no 
longer fight in the name of Allah.'" 98 

5.78 The devastation included significant portions of at least Badakhshan, Kunar 
(including today's Nuristan), Parwan (including today's Panjshir), Kabul, Nangarhar, 
Logar, Paktia (including today's Khost), Qandahar, Herat, Laghman, and Kunduz 
provinces. The Soviet forces employed various tactics, from the killing of individual 
farmers to the destruction of the delicate agricultural infrastructure in the Afghan 
countryside. These tactics not only spread terror, but also destroyed the food supplies 
in the villages upon which the resistance depended for sustenance. Farmers were 
killed, food was destroyed, and the means of food production were disrupted. Whole 
regions of Afghanistan became barren." 

Killing of Farmers 

5.79 Farmers working in the fields were targets for Soviet gunships or jets. Those 
who did not flee sometimes had to reverse their normal work patterns, sleeping by day 
and working in the fields after dark. 100 

5.80 Lala Dad, a farmer from Dasht-i Guhar, Baghlan, told Human Rights Watch in 
a September 25, 1984, interview in Peshawar that Soviet jets usually came between 
ten and twelve o'clock in the morning, when "the people are in the fields. They kill 
them whenever they find them, wherever they find them. Rustam was killed — he was 
a farmer — while he was trying to get rid of some weeds." 101 

5.81 Hafizullah, a farmer from Harioki Ulya, Kapisa, told Human Rights Watch in 
Peshawar on September 23, 1984: 

"We have to do the agricultural work in secret. Whenever the people go to 
work in the fields, if the planes come, they are shot. Some have been killed 
working in the fields, about ten to twelve in my district." 102 

5.82 In an interview in Peshawar on September 25, 1984, Dr. Patrick David of Aide 
Medicale Internationale recounted how, during the Logar offensive in early 
September 1984, Soviet helicopters killed harvesters in the fields with rockets. 103 

5.83 Sayyid Azim of Maidan, interviewed in Peshawar on September 25, 1984, 

A/40/843 (1985) para. 113. 

Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 47-48. 
' Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 71. 
1 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 71. 
'- Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 71. 
' Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 72. 


"The mujahidin try to cultivate the earth, but the Soviets don't let them plow. 
The Soviets shoot the farmers in the fields." 104 

5.84 Dr. Juliette Fournot of Medecins sans Frontieres, in an interview in Paris on 
June 8, 1984, described what she saw during a July 1982 visit to the Panjshir Valley: 

"Because of the bombing, the people hid in caves during the day, and they 
only came out with their animals at night to work in the fields with kerosene 
lanterns." 105 

5.85 Nicholas Danziger, a British art historian who traveled through war-torn 
Afghanistan, saw the same pattern in Herat province: 

"The people come to work the fields at night, they wash the clothes at night, 
they bake the bread at night. And they ask, 'What are we going to do this 
winter when the snow comes?'" 106 

Destruction of Food Supplies 

5.86 A former official of an Afghan government agricultural corporation told 
Human Rights Watch in Peshawar in August 1985 that during the harvest going on at 
that time in his native district, Dasht-i Archi, Kunduz, Soviet forces had "burned more 
than one hundred fields of wheat." His cousin had lost his entire harvest that way a 
month earlier and had fled to Pakistan, where he was living in Haripur refugee 
camp. 107 

5.87 Wheat, the staple food of the Afghans, had traditionally been grown on fifty 
percent of the irrigated land and most of the dry-farmed land in Afghanistan. It was 
also the crop that was most heavily destroyed by Soviet attacks after the invasion. As 
early as March 17, 1980, an old woman from Surkhrud, near Jalalabad, Nangarhar 
province, told Michael Barry, carrying out a mission for the Ligue Internationale des 
Droits de l'Homme: 

"The wheat! The harvest is all burnt! And they killed our children! And on our 
fruit trees they threw something like containers of gasoline, and all of the trees 
burned down!" 108 

5.88 An Afghan economist working with the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan 
in Peshawar said in a September 1984 interview with Human Rights Watch that he 

104 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 72. 

105 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 72. 

106 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 72. 

107 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 48. Testimony of a former executive of a 
government corporation dealing with agriculture; interviewed in Peshawar, August 19, 1985. The 
name and precise former position of the witness were withheld by Human Rights Watch at his request. 

108 Liberation . April 19-20, 1980: 12. 

page 112 

had seen the early stages of this strategy in November 1980 in northern Afghanistan, 
when he traveled from Kabul to his parents' home in Mazar-i Sharif. 109 

"Between Kabul and Mazar was a fertile green area with a lot of gardens. 
They had leveled everything — buildings, trees — and there were mines by the 
road. They started the hunger tactic at that time. I saw one harvest burned. 
There were only ashes left by the highway. This was near Rabatak [Samangan 
province]. Later I took refuge in a tea house, while the Soviet post was firing 
with dashakas [machine guns]. Five kilometers from the post was a big 
harvest, and they burned the harvest. It belonged to a very rich man named 
Khwaja Kabuli. It was burning all through the night, until morning. It was four 
kilometers from the highway — the mujahidin couldn't ambush the convoys 
from there. It was just to produce scarcity of foodstuffs." 110 

5.89 Since then the burning of wheat fields became part of many offensive and 
reprisal operations. Every month there were numerous reports in the Afghan 
Information Centre Monthly Bulletin repeating the same story: a village was bombed, 
people were killed, and the wheat was burned. According to Human Rights Watch, 
refugees told of wheat being burned in the field, on threshing floors, in houses, and on 
trucks. 111 A former Afghan government official told Human Rights Watch of wheat 
being poisoned in Maidan, Wardak: 

"In houses of famous [resistance] commanders, they put poison in the wheat 
flour. This September they did it in Mirza Khan's house. One year ago they 
did the same thing. Last year some people died — Abdullah and his family. 
Now we tell the people, if the Russians have been in the house, to throw away 
the wheat flour." 112 

5.90 Initially the Soviets apparently used a form of incendiary device to destroy the 
wheat. Hafizullah, a farmer from Harioki Ulya, Kapisa, told Human Rights Watch 
about a special type of bomb that "hits the ground an, starts a fire." Some farmers, he 
said, dig ditches around stacks of wheat gathered for threshing and keep them filled 
with water so that they can put out such fires quickly. 113 

5.91 Louis Dupree, an anthropologist who lived in Afghanistan for fifteen years 
until his arrest and expulsion in 1978, investigated the specialized weapons used to 
destroy crops in Afghanistan. He described two types of bombs which, when 
exploded, scattered pellets of phosphorus over a wide area, increasing the amount that 
could be burned. One type, which was used to destroy wheat gathered for threshing, 
drying, or milling, exploded and scattered incendiary material on contact with the 

109 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 72-73. This witness requested anonymity to protect family 
members still in Afghanistan. 

110 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 73. 

111 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 73. 

112 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 74. Sayyid Azim, former government official; interviewed 
in Peshawar, September 25, 1984. 

113 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 74. 


ground. The other type, used to burn crops standing in the field, was dropped by 
parachute and exploded in midair, scattering pellets over a wide area. 114 

5.92 Human Rights Watch also received reports of Soviet soldiers destroying 
animals and other kinds of food — sheep, chickens, eggs, oil, and sugar — during 
offensives. 115 Dr. Ghazi Alam, whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in New York 
City on March 30, 1984, described an incident in Baraki Barak in 1982: 

"There was an old woman, who had no son in the house. There was only this 
old woman in the house, and she had to take care of the house as well as do all 
the agricultural work. She had a watermelon yard. And when the Russians 
came to the area, they didn't pick up one or two or three or four or five or ten 
watermelons from the ground. They took some, and the rest of the 
watermelons they hit with their bayonets, just to destroy them." 116 

Destruction of the Agricultural Infrastructure 

5.93 Like all peasant agriculture, Afghan agriculture depended on a complex 
system of balances involving nature and technology. The land required constant 
maintenance to preserve proper drainage and prevent erosion; in some areas, it was 
carefully terraced. Soviet- Afghan forces tried to destroy this delicate system of food 
production in some strategic areas. 117 

5.94 In areas with plentiful water, such as the plains of the far north and around the 
dams on the Helmand and Kunar rivers, open ditches were used to irrigate the fields. 
In other parts of the country, however, an underground channel (called a karez in 
Pashto and a qanat in Persian) was more common. The karez brings water from 
nearby hills to cultivated flatlands through a series of underground wells connected by 
tunnels reinforced with ceramic hoops. 118 It requires constant maintenance against 
silting and cave-ins and is extremely vulnerable to bombing. 

5.95 Animals were another element in the agricultural system. Most plowing, 
threshing, and transport was done with the aid of beasts of burden, including oxen, 
cows, camels, horses, donkeys, and mules. Animals played an even more important 
role in the economy of the nomads, thought to constitute about ten percent of 
Afghanistan's population. Livestock — extensive herds of sheep and goats — were 
necessary for milk and meat and provided wool for clothing, carpets, and tents. 
Investment in livestock is also a major form of saving wealth. Fruit trees and vines 
are another vital part of Afghan agriculture, requiring years to reach maturity and 
careful watering and pruning to survive and keep yields high. Finally, there were the 
homes, social institutions, and possessions of the villagers themselves: a roof to 

114 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 74. 
115 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 75. 

116 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 75. 

117 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 75-76. 

118 Louis Dupree, Afghanistan (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980; first edition 1973): 

page 114 

shelter them, a mosque for prayer, a blanket for winter, a Quran for study, a pot to 
boil water for rice and tea, and a stove to bake bread. 

5.96 In contested areas of strategic importance, the Soviet-Afghan forces were 
reported to have attacked every part of this agricultural system. 119 They destroyed the 
irrigation and terracing systems, as indicated in reports by observers such as Pal 
Hougen of the Norwegian Afghanistan Committee, who saw the destruction of 
terracing during his July- August 1982 visit to the Bashgul Valley of Kunar province: 

"The irrigation system was disturbed by rockets, and so were the terraces, built 
through 100 generations to make this landscape fitted for men to live in." 120 

5.97 An article in the Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin of July 1984 
described extensive damage to irrigation systems from bombing, as well as a number 
of cases in which Soviet ground troops destroyed karezes with grenades. The famous 
vines and fruit trees of Qandahar province were dying for lack of water because of 
damage to the irrigation systems. People from Maiwand and Sangisar districts of 
Qandahar reported that the Soviets had established military posts along the irrigation 
canals, preventing the residents from repairing or using them. 121 

5.98 Sayyid Azim, a former government official, said in an interview with Human 
Rights Watch in Peshawar on September 25, 1984: 

"When the Russians came last year, they destroyed the karezes. They put 
bombs in them to destroy them. This year they are doing the same thing, for 
instance, in Busragh village." 122 

5.99 Soviet soldiers also frequently killed livestock, according to a number of 
reports. In the same interview just quoted, Sayyid Azim told Human Rights Watch 
that in Maidan (part of Wardak), whenever Soviet-Afghan convoys came through on 
the road from Kabul to Ghazni and Qandahar, helicopters accompanied them and shot 
at the animals, whether there was fighting or not. French journalist Alain Chevalieras, 
interviewed in Peshawar on September 22, 1984, saw cattle destroyed by helicopters 
in the Shulgarah Valley of Balkh province. 123 

5.100 Viktor. V. Bobrov, a former Soviet paratrooper, wrote that on June 9, 1984, a 
Soviet soldier machine-gunned a group of sheep belonging to nomads grazing the 
animals in the Paimunar pass of the Panjshir Valley. Bobrov's officers gave the 
nomads some fuel, canned meat, and a box of condensed milk in return. 124 

5.101 Lala Dad, a farmer from Baghlan interviewed in Peshawar on September 25, 
1984, showed Human Rights Watch documentation of a recent bombing raid in which 

119 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 77. 

120 International Afghanistan Hearing 174. 

121 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 78. 

122 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 78. 

123 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 78. 

124 Viktor Vasilevich Bobrov, K))khbih py6e>K: MiKbbi h peajibHOCTb (Yuzniy Rubezh: Mify i Realnost' 
-The Southern Boundary: Myths and Reality) (Russian Academy of Sciences (Siberia Region): 


118 horses and mules were killed in his village. 125 Others interviewed by Human 
Rights Watch during that period, such as Hafizullah and Kifayatullah of Kapisa, 
women from Kohistan, and refugees from Batikot district of Nangarhar, described 
how Soviet soldiers had killed sheep, cows, and other animals during raids. 

5 . 1 02 Olivier Roy reported in Les nouvelles d ' Afghanistan in October-November 

"Soviet armored helicopters systematically machine-gun the villages and herds 
within a radius of 30 to 50 kilometers of the Soviet base at Chaghcharan [Ghor 
province], especially in the winter, when the flocks are concentrated in the 

5.103 Many vineyards and orchards were demolished. One grim photograph of the 
Afghan war shows a turbaned man holding an antique rifle, surrounded by an arid 
field filled with the cut-off stumps of apricot and almond trees. It was taken in the fall 
of 1982 north of Qandahar , where a representative of Amitie Franco-Afghane 
(AFRANE) was told that government troops had cut off the trees at a height of thirty 
centimeters in the autumn of 1980. 126 

5. 104 Refugees from the Shamali plain north of Kabul told Human Rights Watch on 
September 23, 1984, how bombing had destroyed vineyards and orchards in that 
region. Sayyid Azim described the destruction of the apple orchards of Mai dan: 

"All the fruit trees are cut down. They cut them down when they shoot 
everywhere with bullets or BM-13s." 127 

5. 105 Shah Mahmud Basir, an economist interviewed in Quetta by Human Rights 
Watch on October 3, 1984, said: 

"The Soviets are cutting down fruit trees in Qandahar. In the very place where 
the prison is located they cut five or six very good fruit trees — apples, 
pomegranates, apricots — just because the mujahidin may hide behind trees and 
attack them." 128 

Theft of Property 

5. 106 Viktor. V. Bobrov, who served as a Soviet paratroop colonel in Afghanistan 
during 1983-1985, wrote, "There were many cases of looting, thefts and 
misappropriation done by Soviet soldiers and officers in Afghanistan. These deeds 
were stimulated not only by Soviet military but civilian leadership as well." 129 At the 

Novosibirsk, 2002) 415. Reference supplied by Vladimir Plastun. 
125 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 79. 

126 Les nouvelles d'Afghanistan . No. 11, December 1982: cover and 16; cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. 
Blood, and Cries 80. 

127 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 80. Interview in Peshawar, September, 25, 1984. 

128 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 80. 

129 Bobrov, 209-210. Thanks to Vladimir Plastun for this reference. Plastun, who worked in 

page 116 

1983 Norwegian Afghanistan Hearings in Oslo, Michael Barry told of a village in 
Logar that he saw at night in November 1982. It was completely deserted except for 
one dog, and yet undamaged. He later located the village's former residents in a 
Pakistan refugee camp, where they explained what happened. On August 30, 1982, 
Soviet forces surrounded the village for a cordon and search operation as described in 
the previous chapter. The soldiers did not kill anyone. Instead: 

"They simply stripped every single person in the village that they could lay 
their hands on of anything valuable he had on, whether jewelry or 
wristwatches. Houses were searched, and all transistor radios were 
confiscated. The granaries were emptied, all sacks of grain, finally all the 
sheep, all the goats, all the cattle were loaded onto military lorries and taken 
away. By nightfall the population of Aochakan [Ab-i Chakan in standard 
Persian] had to take stock of the fact that they had nothing left with which to 
survive the coming winter. An assembly was held that evening. It was feared 
that the Soviets could come back this time to press-gang the young men into 
service, and it was decided that the best thing for the villagers to do would be 
to abandon everything and go to Pakistan." 130 

5. 107 Afghan villagers interviewed by Human Rights Watch in Peshawar in 
September 1984 described systematic theft and destruction of property by Soviet 
soldiers sweeping through their villages. Bibi Makhro of Chardara, Kunduz, told how 
Soviet soldiers had stolen sewing machines, watches, and money. Lala Dad of 
Baghlan said that Soviet soldiers "broke china and all expensive possessions." 131 
Kifayatullah of Kapisa said the Russians "took all the expensive things, tapes, 
watches, money, and fruits. They walked up to old men and said, 'Give us bakhshish 
[literally "gift": alms or a bribe].'" 132 He added, "They also burned the mosque and 
tore apart the Holy Quran. They tore up my own copy of the Holy Quran! I found the 
torn pages in my house." 133 A woman from Kapisa told Human Rights Watch: "The 
Russians came while I was cooking dinner. They asked, 'Where is your husband?' 
They broke dishes and glasses, killed animals, and burned the rugs." 134 

G. Blocking Humanitarian Access 

5.108 Until 1 987, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was 
forbidden to work on Afghan soil. Both the DRA and the USSR refused all 
cooperation with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Afghanistan until 
1987, when Professor Ermacora was allowed to visit Afghanistan for the first time. 

Afghanistan as a cultural official and journalist, noted, "There was something like a chain: [military] 
commission's members forced officers to give 'presents,' officers in their turn forced soldiers to find 
money, and soldiers in their turn had to rob civilian Afghans." Email, February 21, 2004. 

"" International Afghanistan Hearing 195. Cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 81. 

131 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 81. 

132 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 82. 

133 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 82. There are other accounts of the seemingly deliberate 
profanation of Muslim symbols. Edward Girardet reported seeing a mosque in Dasht-i Rawat, 
Panjshir, that Soviet soldiers had used as a latrine. U.S. News and World Report . October 15, 1984: 

134 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 82. 


The ICRC could not provide medical care to victims or visit prisoners to assure their 
safety, provide contact with their families, or work out exchanges between the two 
sides. It therefore confined its activities to running hospitals and other treatment 
centers in Pakistan, including one center where it fit many amputees, including 
children, with artificial limbs. 

5. 109 Soviet and Afghan military units reportedly searched for and arrested civilian 
medical personnel, both foreign and Afghan, working in resistance-held areas, 
including French doctors from medical associations based in Paris, as well as Afghan 
doctors operating clinics inside Afghanistan. On at least one occasion, described 
below, Soviet aircraft also bombed such clinics and hospitals even when they were 
marked with the insignia of the red cross. 

International Committee of the Red Cross 

5.110 The ICRC rarely makes public statements criticizing a government for not 
living up to its obligations under the Geneva Conventions. Nonetheless, it felt 
compelled to issue the following statement on May 20, 1984: 

(a) "Since 1979, the International Committee of the Red Cross has made 
every effort to provide protection and assistance to the civilian and military 
victims of the armed conflict in Afghanistan, in accordance with the mandate 
conferred upon it in the Geneva Conventions and the statutes of the 
International Red Cross. 

(b) "On several occasions, it has reminded the parties whose armed forces 
are engaged in the conflict of their obligations under international 
humanitarian law. However, in spite of repeated offers of services to the 
Afghan government and representations to the government of the USSR, the 
ICRC has only on two occasions — during brief missions in 1980 and 1982 — 
been authorized to act inside Afghanistan. Consequently, the ICRC has to 
date been able to carry out very few of the assistance and protection activities 
urgently needed by the numerous victims of the conflict on Afghan 
territory." 135 

5.111 The two missions referred to were visits by the ICRC to inspect the Pul-i 
Charkhi Prison. The first, from April to July 1980, included interviews by 
representatives of the ICRC with people said to be prisoners in Pul-i Charkhi. No 
information was disclosed about the mission. When the ICRC delegation returned 
from Kabul in August 1982, it left before accomplishing its mission. Francois Zen 
Ruffinen, head of the ICRC delegation based in Pakistan at that time, participated in 
the second mission to Kabul. He told Human Rights Watch in an interview in 
Peshawar on September 22, 1984, "We don't go on missions just to sit in our hotel 
rooms." 136 

5.112 The ICRC announced in a communique of October 9, 1982, that the delegates 
who had arrived in Kabul on August 14 at the invitation of Afghan authorities had 

ICRC Bulletin . June 1984. 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 177. 

page 118 

proceeded first to visit Pul-i Charkhi prison and were then requested by the authorities 
to interrupt their mission and leave Kabul temporarily. The ICRC had nonetheless 
received the assurance, during negotiations between its representatives and the 
Afghan authorities, that it would be able to visit all prisoners captured with arms or 
detained as a result of the events taking place in Afghanistan. 137 

5.113 According to a Human Rights Watch report, evidence presented by witnesses 
who were in Pul-i Charkhi prison at the time of the ICRC's August 24, 1982, visit 
indicates that the authorities had duly prepared for the visit. 138 According to several 
prisoners who were in Pul-i Charkhi at the time and later testified in Oslo, the ICRC 
was given access only to block one (of three). The authorities allegedly cleaned up 
the block by removing women and children prisoners along with the more outspoken 
inmates, leaving mainly Khalqi prisoners. 139 

5. 1 14 In its June 20, 1984, press release, the ICRC noted that it had access to Soviet 
prisoners of war captured by the resistance but said nothing about access to resistance 
fighters captured by the other side. ICRC official Francois Zen Ruffinen told Human 
Rights Watch in an interview in Peshawar on September 22, 1984, "The leaders of the 
resistance groups understand our needs and try to cooperate with us, but they tell us 
they are under a lot of pressure from their men, since there is no reciprocation from 
the other side." 140 

5.115 Until 1987 the ICRC was forbidden to undertake within Afghanistan any 
emergency or long-term medical treatment for victims of the conflict. Instead, it had 
to open surgical hospitals in Peshawar and Quetta and establish border posts from 
which arriving Afghan patients could be transported quickly to the nearest hospital. 
Many victims, of course, never reached those border posts. They died or were 
permanently disabled due to the lack of swift, on-the-spot treatment. 141 

Medical Personnel in Resistance-Held Areas 

5.116 Some doctors and nurses undertook to provide medical services to resistance 
fighters and the civilian population in resistance-held areas. Among them were many 
French doctors and nurses associated with three medical associations based in Paris — 
Medecins sans Frontieres, Aide Medicale Internationale, and Medecins du Monde. 142 
Starting in 1980 they sent teams into areas in rural Afghanistan controlled by the 
resistance, where they established clinics that treated both general medical problems 
and problems stemming from the war. Afghan doctors also established clinics in 
resistance-held areas. 

137 Agence France Presse . Geneva, October 9, 1982. 

138 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 177. 

139 Letter from Kabul, reprinted in Les nouvelles d' Afghanistan . December 1982: 9; Helsinki Watch, 
Tears. Blood, and Cries 179. Testimony of Mohammad Seddiq Mossadeq, former student at Kabul 
University, International Afghanistan Hearings 153. Seddiq was in Pul-i Charkhi during this visit. 

140 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 179. 

141 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 179. 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 180. 


5.117 According to human rights reports, the Afghan doctors were treated as enemy 
personnel by the Soviet- Afghan forces, who also conducted systematic searches for 
French doctors. 143 One Afghan doctor, for instance, was reported to have been 
sentenced to three years in prison for treating mujahidin. 144 

5.1 18 Dr. Laurence Laumonier and Capucine de Bretagne, a nurse, were working for 
Aide Medicare Internationale in the Panjshir Valley during the May 1982 Soviet- 
Afghan offensive there. Dr. Laumonier testified: "The Russians were looking for us 
specifically. In every village they went through, they asked the old men who had 
stayed behind, 'Where are the two Frenchwomen?'" 145 

5.119 Dr. Juliette Fournot of Medecins sans Frontieres said in an interview in Paris 
on June 8, 1984, "In the last two weeks of August last year, in the village where we 
had our northern dispensary in Badakhshan, the mujahidin arrested people at night. 
One of them had a walkie-talkie. Another had a map with our hospital and the homes 
where the doctors were living marked." 146 

5. 120 Dr. Marie-Paul Leveilhet recounted that on her way to the Badakhshan 
hospital in early July 1983, she stopped to have lunch in a mosque in a place called 
Bagh-i Sah. Immediately after she left, about eight helicopters flew over the village, 
fired on the mosque where she had eaten, and destroyed much of the village, killing 
sixteen civilians and wounding forty. 147 

5.121 Dr. Philippe Augoyard, who worked in Logar province, said that at the time of 
the Soviet- Afghan Logar offensive of January 1983, Soviet troops arrested some 
women and children and made them stand barefoot in the snow: "The Soviets told 
them they would not let them go until they were told where the French doctors 
were." 148 During the same offensive, Soviet soldiers were reported to have summarily 
executed three old men and wounded another when they did not reveal the 
whereabouts of the French doctors. 149 

5.122 On January 16, 1983, a group of heliborne Soviet commandos captured Dr. 
Augoyard. He was first taken to a Soviet military base for a preliminary interrogation 
and then delivered in a Soviet vehicle to the headquarters of KhAD, the secret police 
modeled on the KGB (see the next chapter), where he was interrogated by an English- 
speaking Afghan. The interrogator offered him a choice: if he was stubborn, he 
would receive the death penalty or a long prison term; if he would say the right things 

143 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 181. 

144 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 181. Testimony of Kifayatullah, farmer from Harioki Ulya, 
Kapisa province. Interview in Peshawar, September 23, 1984. 

145 Agence France Presse . Peshawar, June 19, 1984. 

146 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 181. 

147 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 182. Interview in Paris, June 8, 1984. 

148 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 182. Interview in New York City, January 31, 1984. 

149 International Afghanistan Hearing , cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 182. 

page 120 

at a press conference and a public trial, he would be released in five months. 150 
Augoyard recalled: 

"They told me what I had to do. The press conference (only for Communist 
journalists) was prepared the night before. The answers were prepared. The 
questions the next day were the ones for which they had prepared answers. . . . 
It is not easy to say completely false things about people that you have worked 
with or tried to help. . . . But it was the only way to escape. ... In Kabul they 
always portrayed me as a spy who had come to supply arms. The trial was 
only for propaganda. It was directed and produced just like a play. It's very 
difficult, it's humiliating to have to say things one does not believe, that are 
not true. After the trial, I was freed [on June 9, 1983]. " 151 


5.123 On a number of occasions in the early 1980s, Soviet forces reportedly attacked 
medical facilities in resistance-controlled areas. 

5. 124 According to Medecins Sans Frontieres, Soviet troops looted and destroyed a 
hospital built by the US in the 1970s in Yakaolang, Bamiyan, during an attack in 
September 1980. This was one of the best-equipped hospitals in Afghanistan, in a 
particularly deprived region. According to Medecins sans Frontieres, which had been 
working in the facility: 

"The medicines and the medical equipment, until then carefully guarded by 
the resistance, were systematically removed or destroyed. There is not a single 
usable capsule or pill. All that remain, scattered all over the floor, are the 
medical records, with a file on each patient. ... A similar Soviet expedition in 
the fall of 1980 left numerous burned houses in the Turkmen region west of 
Kabul, where the small hospital of Lalenj suffered the fate of the hospital of 
Yakaolang." 152 

5.125 In 1981, the Soviets began to bomb hospitals operated by the French medical 
organizations. Three small hospitals operated by Medecins du Monde were bombed 
early in the year. On November 4 MiG-27s and armored helicopters bombed the 
hospital of Aide Medicale Internationale in the Panjshir valley, razing the stone 
building to the ground. On November 5 at 7 A.M., three MI-24 helicopters razed the 
hospital of Medecins sans Frontieres in Jaghori, Ghazni, in the southern part of 
Hazarajat. On November 6, three other helicopters destroyed a dispensary of Aide 
Medicale Internationale in Nangarhar province. Later in November the dispensary of 
Medecins sans Frontieres in Waras was attacked. On March 14, 1982, the new 
hospital established by Medecins sans Frontieres in Jaghori was bombed. 153 

150 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 183. 

151 From Augoyard's June 12, 1983, press conference upon his return to France, quoted in Les 
nouvelles d'Afghanistan . June- August 1983: 17, cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 183. 

152 "La situation dans le Hazarajat," January 20, 1982: 19,9. Cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and 
Cries 183. 

153 Les nouvelles d'Afghanistan . February-March, 1982: 14; testimony of Dr. Juliette Fournot, 
Medecins sans Frontieres, interview in Paris, June 8, 1984. All cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, 
and Cries 184. 


5. 126 "After the first time they bombed our hospital in Panjshir," Dr. Laurence 
Laumonier of Aide Medicale Internationale told Human Rights Watch, "I went to see 
[Panjshir Valley resistance Commander Ahmad Shah] Massoud. I told him we were 
going to make another hospital and put a red cross on the roof, so they would be sure 
to know it was a hospital. He told me I was crazy, it would just make it easier for the 
Russians to bomb it. But I did it anyway, and then the helicopters came and bombed 
it." 154 

Restricting and Attacking Journalists 

5. 127 "I warn you, and through you, all of your journalist colleagues: stop trying to 
penetrate Afghanistan with the so-called mujahidin. From now on, the bandits and 
the so-called journalists — French, American, British, and others — accompanying 
them will be killed. And our units in Afghanistan will help the Afghan forces to do 
it." 155 So spoke Vitaly Smirnov, Soviet Ambassador to Pakistan, to two French 
journalists, Olivier Warin of French television and the Agence France Presse 
correspondent in Islamabad, October 5, 1984. 

5.128 After the Soviet invasion and the accession to power of Babrak Karmal, 
foreign journalists were expelled from Afghanistan, and strict controls were 
established over future entry into the country. Though this policy, like many others, 
changed in the Gorbachev years, for several years after 1980 very few foreign 
journalists were allowed to visit Afghanistan, except for those from state- or party- 
controlled media of the Soviet bloc. The few independent journalists who were 
allowed to visit Kabul were taken on staged tours, accompanied by government 
interpreters. Their telephones were tapped, and some had their belongings inspected 
upon leaving. When an Agence France Presse correspondent, Yves Heller, and a 
colleague from radio received rare visas to Kabul in May 1983, much of Heller's 
report concerned the restrictions placed on the reporters: 

(a) "We are not free; there are spies everywhere. . . . The sentence is not 
even finished before the Afghan censor rewinds the tape to the beginning and 
erases it. This scene took place last May 3 in Kabul in the offices of Afghan 
films, where the special correspondent of Agence France Presse as well as the 
correspondent of France-Inter, Ulysse Gosset, had to submit all their films and 
tapes for censorship. 

(b) "All tapes with information or comments hostile to the Afghan regime 
or the Soviets were erased. Similarly, everything sent by telex had to first be 
submitted for censorship. 

(c) "Not only systematic censorship, but also continual control of their 
activity was imposed on the two French journalists — as well as on other 
Western journalists (British, Swedish, West German) — during their entire stay 
in Kabul. 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 185. Interview, Paris, June 16, 1984. 
Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 188. 

page 122 

(d) "This surveillance of our activities, we learned in Kabul from an 
informed Afghan source, was supervised by the Soviet advisers, in particular 
those residing in the Hotel Intercontinental. These two advisers — one for 
political affairs and the other for security — were continually consulted by the 
Afghans, according to this source. 

(e) "We managed to escape from this surveillance only through acrobatics. 
In theory, we had to be accompanied at all times by official 'guide- 
interpreters,' responsible for all our acts. ... In view of this insistent 
surveillance, an Afghan communist finally asked, 'But why did they give you 
a visa, only to prevent you from working?'" 156 

5. 129 Some journalists tried to cover the war from the other side. Two French 
journalists, Francois Missen and Antoine Darnaud, were arrested by Afghan troops in 
Qandahar on September 9, 1980. 157 The arresting officers refused to examine the 
identity cards which the journalists were carrying in accord with Article 79, paragraph 
3, of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions, and instead charged them with 
being CIA agents. 

5.130 Transferred to Kabul, they were eventually interrogated by a Central Asian 
who referred to the Soviet Union as "my country." He demanded they confess their 
ties to the CIA and threatened them with twenty years' imprisonment. They were not 
allowed to see French diplomats or anyone else. Finally they were told they would be 
released if they gave an interview to Afghan television confessing their work for the 
CIA and their "crimes against the revolution." They agreed and were released on 
November 2, 1980. 158 

5.131 On September 17, Jacques Abouchar, a French television reporter, entered 
Afghanistan from Pakistani Baluchistan escorted by members of the Afghan 
resistance. They were ambushed by regime militia, who captured Abouchar and took 
him to Kabul. There he was sentenced to eighteen years in prison. He was released 
on October 25, after concerted pressure from the French government and the warning 
cited above from the Soviet Ambassador to Pakistan that in the future such journalists 
would be killed. 159 

5. 132 The treatment of Jacques Abouchar had a further chilling effect on efforts by 
the international press to cover this hidden war in Afghanistan. The New York Times 
decided that, in view of Soviet threats such as that mentioned above, it would not send 
a correspondent to Afghanistan. "If someone volunteers," an editor told Human 
Rights Watch, "Fine. But we are not going to tell someone he has to go." 160 

156 Agence France Presse special correspondent Yves Heller, Kabul, May 7, 1983; cited in Helsinki 
Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 188. 

157 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 188. 

158 Francois Missen, "50 jours dans les cachots d'Afghanistan," Le Point 428, December 1, 1980: 58 
and 429; December 8, 1980: 151; cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 189. 

159 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 189. 

160 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 189. 


5.133 In 1986, the DRA permitted foreign journalists access to areas under 
government control. In 1989 the government removed restrictions on the unescorted 
movement of journalists in Kabul but reportedly continued to monitor their telephone 
and telex lines. Those captured with the mujahidin, however, continued to be arrested 
and tried. These included journalists from Spain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the 
U.S., and France. The western journalists were generally released after a show trial 
and diplomatic appeals. 161 

Preventing International Inspection 

5. 134 The decision by the UN Human Rights Commission to appoint a Special 
Rapporteur on Afghanistan was opposed by both the USSR and the DRA as 
interference in Afghanistan's internal affairs. Until 1987, the DRA did not even reply 
to Professor Ermacora's repeated letters requesting access to the country in order to 
carry out his mission. Afghan Permanent Representative Muhammad Farid Zarif 
claimed in the debate that consideration of human rights in Afghanistan was a clear 
violation of the United Nations charter and constituted interference in the internal 
affairs of the state. The Soviet delegate, Igor Yakolev, also said that such a decision 
"would infringe in serious fashion the sovereign rights of the state." 162 Special 
Rapporteur Felix Ermacora was first permitted to visit Afghanistan in 1987, three 
years after his first request. 

5.135 In the 1980s, every year in its Annual Report . Amnesty International included 
a disclaimer in the entry on Afghanistan: 

"The civil war itself and the continued denial of access to the country by the 
Afghan Government to international humanitarian organizations and most of 
the world press hampered Amnesty International's collection of such 
information and the verification of such allegations [of human rights violations 
by both sides.]" 163 

5.136 Other organizations faced the same problem. A request by Helsinki Watch to 
send a mission to Kabul in 1984 was met with polite evasion. A Human Rights 
Watch delegation finally went to Kabul in 1990 and met with President Najibullah 
and other officials. 

161 Asia Watch, Afghanistan: The Forgotten War — Human Rights Abuses and Violations of the Laws 
of War Since the Soviet Withdrawal (New York: 1991). 

162 United Nations, Press Release, ECOSOC/4756, May 17, 1984. 

163 Amnesty International, Annual Report (London: 1984) 205. 

page 124 

(December 27, 1979-April 15, 1992 / Qaws 10, 1358-Hamal 26, 1371): 


"The city is in the grip of fear, which was visible in all the Afghans we 
managed to meet. This fear, they said, is methodically maintained by the 
secret police of the Afghan regime, KhAD, 'a veritable octopus which is 
continually spreading its tentacles ' over the capital. . . . Stories of 
disappearances, arrests, spying are plentiful in Kabul . . . where KhAD has 
become not just a state within a state, but the state itself. " 

Yves Heller, Agence France Press e, 1983 

6. 1 As described by human rights reports, the Afghan regime and its Soviet allies 
maintained and enforced control in the cities through the fear of a terrorized 
population aware of the ever-present possibility of arbitrary arrest, torture, 
imprisonment, and execution. 1 

6.2 The system was enforced by the largest agency of the Afghan state, the State 
Information Services, known as KhAD. 2 KhAD had a larger budget than even the 
military and was reported to be directly financed by the Soviet Union. 3 Organized in 
1980 under the guidance of KGB advisers, it was under close Soviet supervision. 
KhAD informers sat in almost every office and classroom in Kabul. A former high 
official of KhAD told Human Rights Watch in Peshawar that KhAD aimed to have "a 
spy in every family." 4 The torture of detainees by KhAD was probably the most fully 
documented form of grave abuse of human rights under the Soviet-DRA regime in the 
early to mid-1980s. Special Rapporteur Ermacora concluded in 1985, "Torture 
against opponents of the regime ... is currently commonplace and . . . has almost 
assumed the character of an administrative practice." 5 Amnesty International 

1 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries: Human Rights in Afghanistan Since the Invasion 1979— 
1984 (New York: 1984) 123. 

2 KhAD was an acronym for Khidamat-i Itila'at-i Dawlati, Dari for State Information Services. In 
January 1986 KhAD was upgraded to a ministry, the Ministry of State Security, known as WAD 
(Wazarat-i Amaniyat-i Dawlati). Its successor today is called Riyasat-i Amaniyat-i Dawlati, the 
Directorate of State Security. 

3 French ethnologist Bernard Dupaigne learned this from high-level contacts in Kabul during 1980, as 
he told Human Rights Watch in an October 19, 1984, letter (Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 

4 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 85. During a May 1983 visit to Kabul, Agence France Presse 
correspondent Yves Heller was told by a PDPA official that KhAD had ten thousand employees in 
Kabul. Taking the maximum population figures for Kabul at that time, including close to a million 
internally displaced people, this would mean that one out of every 150 residents of Kabul (including 
children) was an employee of KhAD. Agence France Presse . Kabul, May 9, 1983. 

5 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan"( A/40/843, 1985) para. 187. 


"Although Amnesty International has received reports of torture under all 
three governments since the "Sawr" revolution of April 1978 ... it was only 
after the formation of KhAD in late 1979 that the practice was reported to 
have become systematic." 6 

6.3 Publications of both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International contain 
pages and pages of verbatim testimony of torture victims. In addition, Amnesty 
International assisted Dr. Mohammad Azam Dadfar, a German-trained Afghan 
psychiatrist, in establishing a clinic in Peshawar to treat former torture victims for 
post- traumatic stress syndrome and other ailments. Dr. Dadfar, who was later elected 
deputy chairman of both the Emergency and Constitutional Loya Jirgas in 2002 and 
2003, published his findings on torture in several places. 7 This chapter presents only a 
fraction of the available evidence. 

6.4 Reports cited below from the UN Special Rapporteur, Amnesty International, 
and Human Rights Watch establish that interrogation involving the systematic use of 
torture was supervised by Soviet advisers. According to these reports, these advisers 
occasionally participated directly in the interrogations involving torture, particularly 
when important prisoners were involved. In its 1986 report, Afghanistan: Torture of 
Political Prisoners . Amnesty International published several pages of testimonies 
about the involvement of Soviet personnel in torture. It reported: 

(a) "The KHAD is reported to have Soviet advisers at its main offices, and 
many of the testimonies available to Amnesty International refer to the 
presence of Soviet personnel when prisoners are being interrogated under 

(b) "In many of these cases, prisoners state that Soviet personnel are 
present during torture and participate in or direct interrogation while the 
physical application of torture is left to Afghans." 8 

6.5 KhAD's external affairs department also was reported to be responsible for an 
increasing number of acts of terrorism and sabotage carried out in Pakistan against 
targets associated with the mujahidin and refugees. Police in the North West Frontier 
Province registered fifty-two bomb blasts in 1986, killing forty-two. In the first eight 
months of 1987, sixty-four people died in fifty-five explosions. According to human 
rights reports, some of these may have been due to sectarian clashes in Pakistan, but 
most appear to have been the work of KhAD. 9 

6 Amnesty International, File on Torture ASA 12/12/84 (London: 1984). 

7 Mohammad Azam Dadfar, The Impaired Mind (Peshawar: Psychiatry Centre for Afghans, 1990); 
Mohammad Azam Dadfar, "Victims of Torture in Afghanistan," in In Afghanistan: A Decade of 
Sovietisation . ed. Sayed Mohammad Yusuf Elmi (Peshawar: Afghan Jehad Works Translation Centre, 
1988): 141-157. 

8 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners ASA 1 1/04/86 (London: 1986) 17. 
Pages 17-19 of this report largely consist of testimonies about Soviet involvement in torture of 

9 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict: Violations of the Laws of War in 
Afghanistan (New York: 1988). 

page 126 

6.6 Prison conditions continued to be abominable through the mid-1980s (notably 
at Pul-i Charkhi, where massive overcrowding continued), but reports of manipulation 
of those conditions to humiliate detainees, as was common under the previous regime, 
became less frequent. Executions reportedly continued on a large scale, though 
seemingly less frequently than under the Khalq-dominated regime in 1978-1979. 10 
Under the Soviet-installed regime, executions were carried out in accord with 
"socialist legality," rather than on the whim of the authorities. Accused prisoners 
were "tried" by a Special Revolutionary Court. According to reports, prisoners were 
always found guilty — those finally determined to be no threat to the regime were 
released without trial — but this court would decide upon the sentence, including 
death. 11 There was no judicial appeal from the sentence of the Special Revolutionary 
Court. Prisoners could escape punishment, however, by agreeing to cooperate with 
the government by becoming spies themselves. Even if they were not executed, they 
were threatened with incarceration with common criminals if they refused. 12 

6.7 As the DRA became more desperate for recruits to fill the ranks of its 
desertion-riddled army, it began to practice forced conscription on a mass scale. The 
government forcibly conscripted child soldiers, as the age of conscription was 
lowered to fifteen in 1982, and escaping such enrollment became a common motive 
for flight abroad by boys and young men. Children of party members, however, were 
exempted from conscription until they completed their schooling. 13 The government 
ultimately became so desperate that it began forcibly enrolling in the army young men 
whom it had first arrested and tortured for fighting against it. 14 

6.8 Starting in 1984, the government established an institution called the 
Homeland Nursery (Parwarishgah-i Watan) for orphans and other neglected children. 
Some of these children reportedly still had one or both parents or other family 
members and were recruited and separated from their families forcibly or under 
pressure. Children from these institutions were sent to the USSR for both short- and 
long-term tours of work and study. Both the UN Special Rapporteur and Human 
Rights Watch reported cases where children were sent to the USSR against their will 
or without permission from their parents. 15 There were some reports that Afghan 
children who were sent on short tours to Central Asia were forced to engage in labor. 16 
Such "voluntary labor" by schoolchildren, particularly in harvesting cotton, was a 
common practice in Soviet Central Asia and remains so in parts of the region today. 17 

10 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 161. 

11 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 158. 

12 A/40/843 (1985) para. 59. 

13 A/40/843 (1985) para. 61. 

14 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch. By All Parties to the Conflict . 

15 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/41/778, 1986); Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 
(New York: 1985); Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch. To Win the Children . 

16 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan . 

17 See Boris Z. Rumer, Soviet Central Asia: A Tragic Experiment (Boston: Unman Hyman, 1989); 
Turkmenistan Helsinki Initiative, "Education in Turkmenistan" (Vienna, 2004), at leduTHI(eng).doc; Chemen Ashirova, "The 
'Golden' Life of Turkmen Children," November 13, 2002, Prima News (Moscow) at 


No such forcible separation of children from parents or forced travel abroad was 
reported after 1986. 

6.9 In 1986 the overall human rights situation in government-controlled areas 
started to improve. Professor Ermacora summarized these changes in the report he 
presented to the UN General Assembly in 1987 after his first visit to Afghanistan, in 
August of that year: 

"In areas under government control, the number of political prisoners has been 
reduced, prisoners have been released as a result of amnesties, religious 
manifestations are not restricted, no new reports of torture within the meaning 
of international instruments have been received in the last six months, ICRC 
has been permitted to inspect Pol-i-Charkhi prison and closer collaboration 
with ICRC is being studied. The Government is making efforts to persuade 
refugees to return and to facilitate their integration in Afghan society; when 
possible, released detainees are reinstated in their former occupations, and in 
certain areas the Government is trying to convince opponents of the regime's 
sincerity through discussions rather than military confrontation." 18 

6.10 As documented below, political prisoners were still serving sentences based on 
unfair trials, and mistreatment of detainees continued, as did some incidents of torture. 

A. House Searches and Arrests 

6.11 KhAD arrested people in a variety of ways. According to human rights 
reports, sometimes the militia surrounded a house at night and proceeded to search it 
before making arrests, ripping apart pillows, tearing clothes, and going through all 
books and papers. In another common procedure, boys and young men were stopped 
by street blockades and whisked away to join the army. Troops were known to 
blockade an entire neighborhood while KhAD agents searched the houses. 19 

6.12 Most arrests in central Kabul were made by KhAD agents in plainclothes, 
sometimes assisted by the militia of the Ministry of Interior (Sarandoy) or Afghan 
soldiers. In some cases, according to testimonies given to Human Rights Watch, 
Soviet agents were also present. 20 

6.13 In outlying areas or in massive searches, Soviet troops reportedly sometimes 
conducted house-to-house searches themselves, as they did in the countryside. 21 

6.14 There was no due process at the beginning of the 1980s, though this improved 
later. Amnesty International stated: 1/1 3/2 1542.html. 

18 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/42/667, 1987) para. 111. 

19 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 124. 

20 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 126. 

21 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 125. 

page 128 

"Arrests take place for the most part without warrant or even identification of 
the arresting officer. These arrests usually take place at night. No reasons are 
given for the person's arrest, and the family is not informed of where the 
prisoner is taken." 22 

6.15 When people were arrested outside their homes, according to reports, their 
families might not even know that they had been arrested. The elder brother of Razia, 
a university student arrested in 1981, told Human Rights Watch in Peshawar in a 
September 23, 1984, interview, "Nobody in the house knew where she was." A 
classmate told the family that the "KGB" (KhAD) had arrested her, and they located 
her in the woman's detention center in KhAD headquarters. 23 

6. 16 An Afghan woman in Kabul wrote to a friend in France about a case in which 
a woman and two children died and two other children went into comas because 
soldiers arrested the husband and father: 

"The following summer [1982] a husband had to take his wife to the maternity 
hospital to give birth. Since he had no one to leave them with, he locked his 3 
children (1,3, and 4 years old) in the house. At the hospital, when 
complications arose during the birth, the doctors asked the husband for certain 
medicines, which he had to go to the pharmacy to buy. Between the hospital 
and the pharmacy the husband was arrested by soldiers who demanded his 
papers. The soldiers did not listen to any explanation or plea, and he was sent 
off. After three days, he had the good fortune to find an understanding officer, 
who let him go. When he returned to the hospital, the poor man found that his 
wife and newborn child had died, for lack of the medicines. At home the one- 
year-old had died, and the other two children were in comas from lack of food. 
I must stop; I do not have the courage to go on." 24 

6.17 According to accounts of former prisoners analyzed by Human Rights Watch, 
arrests were based on reports from spies and informers, suspects interrogated under 
torture, or, occasionally, electronic eavesdropping. 25 According to human rights 
reports, KhAD monitored the spoken word through a network of spies. 

6.18 Sometimes KhAD arrested people for the sole purpose of obtaining 
information from them about another member of their family. Torture was reportedly 
used to get them to talk. Amnesty International reported one such case: 

"Shahnaz and Natila Ulumi, believed to be 21 and 18 years old respectively, 
were arrested with 1 1 other members of their family in the first week of June 
1983. The 13 members of the family were taken to KhAD interrogation center 
in the Sedarat in Kabul. The family is said to have been closely questioned 
about the activities and whereabouts of Khozhman Ulumi, the brother of 
Shahnaz and Natila, who is reputed to be a leader of Rahayee, a Maoist group 

22 Amnesty International, Torture in the Eighties (London: 1984) 182. 

23 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 125. 

24 Letter reprinted in Les nouvelles d'Afghanistan 14, June-August 1983: 6, cited in Helsinki Watch, 
Tears. Blood, and Cries . 

25 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries . 


that is active in the resistance to the government of President Babrak 
Karmal. . . . Amnesty International has received allegations that Shahnaz and 
Natila Ulumi were ill-treated and tortured with electric shocks whilst they 
were detained at the Sedarat." 26 

6.19 House searches accompanying arrests were reportedly thorough and 

"They did not say who they were, but we knew they were KhAD because we 
saw they had a Volga car with a double antenna and a license plate 22000. . . . 
They sent someone to search every room, but they could not find anything. 
Then they called with a radio to their central office. They waited at the house, 
and after some time a second group of men came, all in some uniform, and 
they made a more precise investigation. They tore open everything in the 
house, pillows, cushions, mattresses. They took all these things off the beds 
and cut them open. They tore all of the clothes hanging in the closets. They 
made a complete search of the kitchen. They looked in the sink, the chimney, 
the well. And they went over the whole inside and courtyard of the house with 
some electric machines [apparently metal detectors]. They were doing this for 
four hours, until three o'clock in the afternoon." 27 

6.20 When the resistance carried out an assassination or some other operation in a 
city, the security forces reportedly often responded by searching houses or shops in 
the area and arresting people who were then sent to jail or, in the case of boys or 
young men, to the army. An Afghan economist reported that during Ramazan 1363 
(June- July 1984), after mujahidin killed a soldier in Topkhana bazaar of Qandahar, he 
saw troops from the Ministry of the Interior arrest an old man and a small boy a few 
shops away in the bazaar. 28 A former student from Kabul described being stopped on 
the street every five or ten minutes by soldiers engaged in house searches or checking 
people's papers. 29 An Agence France-Presse correspondent observed one of what he 
described as "daily occurrences": 

26 Amnesty International, Democratic Republic of Afghanistan: Background Briefing on Amnesty 
International's Concerns (London: 1983) 7-8. 

27 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 128. Testimony of a former accountant from Kabul whose 
brother was arrested in August 1982; interviewed in Alexandria, Virginia, March 22, 1984. 

28 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 129. Shah Mahmud Baasir, economist; interviewed in 
Quetta, October 3, 1984. 

29 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries . Muhammad Gul, former student at Vocational High 
School, Kabul; interviewed in Peshawar, September 30, 1984. 

page 130 

"With all of its doors flung open, the antediluvian yellow Volga is blocked up 
against the sidewalk: its occupants are pulled out by 3 armed soldiers who 
check their identity papers. A few meters away, in a military truck, two young 
Afghans are prostrated. Captured several hours earlier in a taxi that resembled 
the old Volga, they will end up in an army barracks that same day. . . . Every 
young man is treated as a suspect." 30 

6.21 Association with foreigners, especially Americans, was sometimes considered 
prima facie evidence of criminality. Anwar, a former government employee 
interviewed by Human Rights Watch, was questioned under torture by Soviet officers 
about his friendship with an American Peace Corps worker who had been his English 
teacher when he was fifteen years old. 31 

6.22 In May 1982 KHAD arrested all Afghan clerical employees at the US 
Embassy. Anwar-ul-Haq, the former physics student from Kabul whom Human 
Rights Watch interviewed on September 29, 1984, in Peshawar, told Human Rights 
Watch that he had met two of them in jail and that they were being interrogated under 
torture by Soviet officers who accused them of being CIA agents. 32 

6.23 Fr. Serge de Beaurecueil, a French Dominican monk who taught at a lycee in 
Kabul until he returned to France in August 1983, had educated many abandoned 
children in his home over the years. 33 In June 1983 six of these boys and two of their 
friends were arrested by KhAD agents and accused under torture of being spies for Fr. 
de Beaurecueil. One, who was found with a resistance party membership card, was 
sentenced to ten years in prison, the others to several months. 34 

6.24 The Afghan government prohibited all forms of public demonstration against 
the government. Demonstrators were fired upon and killed or wounded; they were 
also arrested and interrogated to elicit information about organizations responsible for 
the demonstrations. In 1980 and, to a lesser extent, in 1981, hundreds were killed and 
many thousands arrested as the Kabul government, with Soviet help, suppressed mass 
public demonstrations. 35 Professor Ermacora reported: 

"The situation was described as being particularly tense, and the reaction of 
the population to occupation appears to have resulted on 21 February 1980 in 
an uprising at Kandahar and Kabul, and subsequently in student 
demonstrations at the end of April and the beginning of May 1980, during 

30 Yves Heller, Agence France-Presse . Kabul, May 10, 1983, cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood. 
and Cries 95. 

31 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 95. 

32 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 95. 

33 His memoirs constitute a unique first-hand account of 1979-1983: Etienne Gille and Sylvie Heslot 
(eds.), Lettres d'Afghanistan de Serge de Beaurecueil: Chronique d'un Temoin Privilegie . I ( 1979: la 
Terreur), II (1980: Au bord du desespoir ). Ill ( 1981-1983: L'impasse ). (Paris: Centre de Recherches et 
d'Etudes Documentaires sur l'Afghanistan, 1992). 

34 Gille and Heslot, vol. Ill, 161-163. Helsinki Watch interviewed one of the boys in Peshawar after 
his release, but to protect his identity wrote only, "We were able to confirm this [published] report in 
Peshawar." (Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 95.) 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 96-97. 


which unarmed schoolgirls who thought that they had a certain measure of 
immunity were shot by the militia." 36 

6.25 The strike by shopkeepers on February 21, 1980, (Hut 3, 1358) led to a week 
of mass demonstrations in Kabul in which hundreds of thousands of people 
participated. People went up on their roofs at night to chant Islamic slogans, leading 
to the naming of this date as the "night of Allahu Akbar." Afghan Army troops fired 
on the crowds with machine guns and tanks as Soviet helicopters hovered overhead. 37 
The Afghan government officially acknowledged a death toll of five hundred. A 
number of Shi 'a religious dignitaries were reportedly arrested and summarily 
executed, including the scholar Maulana Zabibullah. Thousands of others were 
arrested as well. 38 

6.26 In March 1980 demonstrations continued, mainly organized by Kabul 
University students. A former student, Qadir, whom Human Rights Watch met in 
Peshawar on September 29, 1984, described the government's suppression of a 
demonstration by surrounding students with horsemen and tanks while helicopters 
flew overhead. Several students died of gunshot wounds and hundreds were arrested. 35 

6.27 In April 1980, on the second anniversary of the coup, hundreds of high school 
girls organized their own demonstrations and were soon joined by other students. 
According to Human Rights Watch, throughout April and May, troops fired on these 
demonstrators and arrested participants by the thousands. About fifty students were 
killed, more than half of them schoolgirls. 

6.28 Schoolgirls called anti-Soviet demonstrations again in September 1981 to 
protest the mobilization of reserves. At Pul-i Bagh-i Umumi in central Kabul, they 
were met by a line of Soviet and Afghan tanks and told to stop. Anwar, a former 
official, witnessed the scene: 

"It was coming from inside a tank like a tape through loudspeakers, 
announcing, 'Stop the demonstration, don't go ahead, go back to your classes, 
otherwise you'll be shot.' There was a small speech like 'You are the property 
of the country, and you young girls don't know that this is the hand of 
imperialism, and imperialism is never happy for you to have a happy life, and 
you shouldn't be fooled to listen to imperialism, and Russians are here to help 
us, and Russians are here to support revolution,' and stuff like this. The girls 
continued shouting, 'We know you Russians! We know you, sons of Lenin! 
We know you are murderers, and we don't want to go back! We'd rather 
prefer to be killed than to go back to our classes. We want you Russians to get 
out of Afghanistan.' That's what they were shouting. Then there was firing 
from the Russian tanks. Six girls were killed. The six bodies, I saw that they 

36 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1985/21) para. 85. 

37 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 96. 

38 Le Monde . February 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29 and March 1, 1980, cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood. 
and Cries 96. 

39 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 97. 

page 132 

were not able to move. Their hands and legs stopped moving, and they put 
them in a Russian jeep." 40 

6.29 The Afghan militia and KhAD also arrested refugees en route to Pakistan. 
They were reportedly imprisoned in KhAD detention centers and sometimes tortured. 
Those that were released (sometimes after paying large bribes) were sent back to their 
villages or forcibly resettled. According to Human Rights Watch, some internally 
displaced people, including some from the Panjshir Valley, were imprisoned for 
resisting forced resettlement. 41 Others were arrested during rural searches. A former 
Soviet soldier recalled such operations in a Human Rights Watch Report: 

"We received information that there were 'dushmans' or 'Islamic Committees' 
in a village. Usually we used a whole battalion. We drove in APCs to the 
village, and the infantry would sweep the village in a house-to-house search, 
looking for weapons. If we found people with weapons, we took them. The 
second time we arrested four men in their forties. The soldiers were pushing 
them and beating them, just because they were angry. We brought them to a 
post of the Afghan militia [run by KhAD]. We were told that the militia 
'would know what to do with them.'" 42 

6.30 Dr. Ghazi Alam described the results of such operations from the other side: 

"I knew a young man from my village, I know his mother, I know his wife and 
child. I treated his child several times. This boy was taken with other people 
during the searching of the houses by the Russians [in Logar province in 
September 1982]. He was taken to the area of Shikar Qala. They made a camp 
there for a few days. When they took the people — hundreds, maybe — they 
started to torture them there. This boy I knew was crying because of the 
beating. And there was someone else in another tent, and he heard his voice, 
he was crying, shouting in a very loud voice, 'Anyone who hears this should 
get a message to my family. I have an old mother and a wife and small child. 
I'm sure they are killing me. My small amount of money is with such-and- 
such a shopkeeper. Anyone who hears my voice should inform my family so 
my wife can get the money.' And so he was killed there. After they left the 
area, the people went and got his body. The man I knew was taken to Kabul 
and sent to the military, and he slipped back from the military. Then he 
brought this message." 43 

B. Torture 

6.31 In his first report, UN Special Rapporteur Felix Ermacora, stated that 
"concordant testimony" showed that "the special police [KhAD] and the members of 
the armed forces regularly practiced torture." A former KhAD officer whom he 

40 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 97. Testimony of Anwar, Chicago, Illinois, April 15, 1984. 

41 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 65. 

42 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 65. Pvt. Sergei Zhigalin, Soviet Army defector; interviewed 
in New York City, May 3, 1984. 

43 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 66. Dr. Ghazi Alam; interviewed in New York City, March 
30, 1984. 


interviewed named four professional torturers: Muhammad Rahim, Samad Azhar, 
Abdul Ghani, and Faruq Miakhail. 44 Amnesty International described torture since 
December 1979 as "systematic": 

"Amnesty International has received persistent reports of widespread and 
systematic torture of political suspects in Afghanistan under the government of 
President Babrak Karmal, who came to power in December 1979. Testimonies 
and other information received by the organization indicate that torture is 
inflicted in detention centres throughout the country which are administered 
by the State Information Services, Khedamat-i Etela 'at-i Dawlati, known as 
KhAD. . . . Although Amnesty International has received reports of torture 
under all three governments since the 'Sawr' revolution of April 1978 ... it 
was only after the formation of KhAD in late 1979 that the practice was 
reported to have become systematic." 45 

6.32 An engineer named Muhammad Nabi Umarkhel, who was arrested three times 
(under Taraki, under Amin, and again under Babrak Karmal and the Soviets) 
compared his treatment under different regimes in a report by Human Rights Watch. 
Under Taraki and Amin, he said, "They were killing a lot of people without any 
investigation." But under Karmal and the Soviets, "It is much better organized, 
because of the Russians." 46 

6.33 All political prisoners were subjected to interrogation by KhAD, which was 
sometimes protracted. Reports cited below from both Amnesty International and 
Human Rights Watch indicated that interrogation procedures invariably involved 
torture. Amnesty International described the pattern of torture as follows: 

(a) "Numerous reports have indicated that the treatment meted out to 
suspects by KhAD agents has followed a pattern: they are arrested and taken 
to one of many KhAD detention centres — Amnesty International knows of 
eight in Kabul alone — where they are first subjected to various forms of 
deprivation and then soon afterwards intensively tortured. 

(b) "Suspects are reportedly deprived of all contact with family, lawyers or 
doctors, or even other prisoners, by being held incommunicado and in solitary 
confinement. During this period they may be continuously interrogated, 
threatened, and be deprived of sleep or rest; cases have also been reported of 
detainees having been deprived of food. 

(c) "Former detainees have told Amnesty International that suspects who 
fail to cooperate with KhAD are then tortured — the methods reported have 
included electric shocks, beatings, burning with cigarette ends, and dousing 
with water. 

44 E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 86, 87. 

45 Amnesty International, File on Torture . 

46 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 132. Muhammad Nabi Umarkhel, civil engineer; 
interviewed in Peshawar, September 27, 1984. 

page 134 

(d) "Detainees are also known to have been kept in shackles or bound 
hand and foot for prolonged periods. In some cases prisoners are reported to 
have been forced to watch their relatives being tortured." 47 

6.34 According to the Special Rapporteur, torture took place in "the Ministry of the 
Interior, the Kabul prisons and all the Khad detention centres." Among the latter, he 
specifically mentioned the "headquarters of KhAD, . . . eight detention centres at 
Kabul controlled by the Khad; [and] some 200 individual houses in the region of 
Kabul used as detention centres and controlled by the Khad." 48 The largest KhAD 
detention center in the country, the headquarters mentioned by the Special 
Rapporteur, was in the Sedarat compound in Kabul. 49 Sedarat contained the central 
interrogation office. Another major KhAD interrogation center was in the Sheshdarak 
District. The Khalqi-dominated Ministry of the Interior had its own security force, 
the Sarandoy, in whose offices torture was also reported. Besides these three, 
Amnesty International listed other detention centers in Kabul where prisoners were 
reportedly tortured: the office of the military branch of KhAD, KhAD-i Nezami; 
KhAD "Office Number Five," responsible for counterinsurgency, in Dar-ul-Aman; 
other departments called offices three and four; two private houses near the Sedarat, 
the Ahmad Shah Khan house and one in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood; and 
the KhAD office in Hawzai Barikat district. 50 Amnesty International also reported 
torture in Pul-i Charkhi prison. Former prisoners interviewed by Human Rights Watch 
had been tortured in various places: Sedarat, Sheshdarak, KhAD Office Number Five, 
the house in Wazir Akbar Khan, and Pul-i Charkhi. 51 

6.35 As the Special Rapporteur mentioned, there were other centers in Kabul as 
well. A former bank employee whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in Peshawar 
on September 25, 1984, reported being taken to a KhAD center in Kart-i Seh, in 
southwest Kabul. A former KhAD agent described a new detention center: "In 
Shahrara there is a hill, and they have made rooms inside by digging tunnels. There is 
an underground jail there." 52 

6.36 Amnesty International reported that each provincial center had its own KhAD 
office and detention center. 

(a) "Amnesty International has also received reports of torture at KhAD 
centres in the provincial cities of Bamian, Ghazni, Jalalabad, Kandahar, 
Lashkargah and Pul-i Khomri, and in the prisons of Kunduz and Mazar-i 

47 Amnesty International, File on Torture . 

48 E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 87n. 

49 "Sedarat" means "Prime Ministry." KhAD, before becoming a ministry in 1986, was formally part of 
the prime minister's office. The principal office of KhAD was on a large compound formerly belonging 
to a member of the royal family in central Kabul between the main Sedarat compound and the Embassy 
of Iran. 

50 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 6-7. 

51 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners : Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, 
and Cries : Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan . 

52 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 134. Interview in Peshawar, September 30, 1984. Name 
withheld on request. 


Sharif, although some people arrested in other cities were taken immediately 
to Kabul for interrogation in Sedarat. 

(b) "In Kandahar, the headquarters of KhAD are said to be in the former 
house of Abdul Rahim Latif in Shahr-i Nau district, but most torture is 
reported to be practiced in a building known as the Musa Khan building. 
Another KhAD center in Kandahar from which torture was reported was 
described as Darwazan (Herat Gate). 

(c) "In addition to KhAD centres and prisons, Amnesty International has 
interviewed people who said they were tortured in military posts." 53 

6.37 Dr. Mohammad Azam Dadfar reported treating former detainees who had 
been tortured in twenty-four of what were then twenty-nine provinces in the country. 54 

6.38 According to these human rights reports, people arrested in Kabul were 
usually taken first to one of the smaller detention centers for a preliminary 
investigation. They were asked to confess their crimes and were left alone for various 
periods of time. If they did not confess, the torture began, sometimes immediately, 
sometimes after a few days. 55 Usually, the prisoner was transferred to Sedarat after a 
relatively short period of time (perhaps only a few days). 56 In Sedarat the prisoner 
might again be given a chance to confess, but, according to a Human Rights Watch 
report, sooner or later there was likely to be more intensive torture. 57 

6.39 Prisoners were reported to be held completely incommunicado throughout the 
interrogation. According to a report from Human Rights Watch, the frequency and 
intensity of the torture appeared to be calibrated to the political importance and 
physical stamina of the prisoner. When KhAD finished the interrogation, the prisoner 
was transferred to Pul-i Charkhi Prison. In some cases, the interrogation continued 
there. Some of the most important prisoners were apparently interrogated in a special 
section of Pul-i Charkhi Prison. Some were kept in tiny cells where they could not 
stand up or stretch out and were tortured daily for as long as a year by Soviet officers 
aided by a few Afghans. 58 

6.40 In the provinces, arrested persons were brought first to the local KhAD office 
for preliminary interrogation. The more important prisoners were then transferred to a 

53 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 7. 

54 Dadfar, Impaired Mind 1 1 . The absent provinces were Kapisa, Paktika, Farah, Nimruz, and 
Badghis. These all had small populations, and three were extremely far from Peshawar, where 
Dadfar' s clinic was located. 

55 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 135. 

56 Women and some other prisoners went immediately to Sedarat, while a few prisoners apparently stay 
for long periods of time in other detention centers. "Amnesty International was told of a man who was 
arrested by KhAD in June 1981 and held in Sheshdarak detention centre incommunicado until 1983" 
(Amnesty International, File on Torture ). 

57 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 135. 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 135. 

page 136 

detention center in Kabul for intensive interrogation. Most were sent to Sedarat, but 
some apparently went to the special section of Pul-i Charkhi. 59 

6.41 Dr. Dadfar's case histories documented a large range of torture techniques, 
listed in Box 6.1. The UN Special Rapporteur also received reports of various 
techniques of torture: 

"With regard to the nature of the torture, the Special Rapporteur was apprised 
of a whole series of torturing techniques applied. A former officer of the 
security police in his testimony listed the following eight types of torture: 
giving electric shocks, generally to the genitals in men and the breasts in 
women; tearing out nails and introducing electric shock; preventing the 
prisoners from doing their business, so that after a time they are obliged to do 
it in the presence of other co-detainees (a technique designed to humiliate the 
prisoner); sticking pieces of wood in the men's anus (particularly applied to 
old and highly-respected prisoners); plucking out the beard of some prisoners, 
especially elderly men or religious figures; pressing on the prisoners' throats 
to force them to open their mouths while the guards urinate into them; setting 
police dogs on detainees; hanging them by the feet for an indeterminate length 
of time; raping women, tying their hands and feet and introducing a variety of 
objects into the vagina. The witness gave the following names of torturers he 
had known himself: Mohammed Rahim, Samad Azhar, Abdul Ghani and 
Farouq Miakhail." 60 

6.42 Dr. Dadfar reported that ninety-eight percent of the victims he treated had 
been subjected to "beating with heavy whips, wooden sticks, cable wire, kicks, and 
punches." Sixty-one percent reported being kept in isolation for periods of four days 
to nine months. Seventy-four percent were tortured with electric shocks. Forty-seven 
percent reported trauma to the head, leading to lasting headaches or dizziness, as well 
as two cases of post-traumatic epilepsy. Sexual torture was reported by seventeen 
percent of the patients. 61 He also reported on the lasting effects of the torture: 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 136. 
E/CN.4/1 985/21 para. 86. 
Dadfar, Impaired Mind 12. 


Box 6.1 Methods of torture used by KhAD 

Physical Torture 

Psychological Torture 


Systematic beatings with wooden sticks, 


Verbal abuses, insult, humiliation. 

heavy whips and cable wire. 


Sleep deprivation. 


Non-systematic beatings, punching, kicking, 


Food deprivation. 

slapping and beating with rifle butts. 


Water deprivation. 


Electric torture on sensitive parts of the body 


Forcing the victim to witness others being 

viz: tongue, etc. 



Direct trauma to the head. 


Hard labour. 


Suspension of the body by one hand or leg. 


Forcing him to eat contaminated food. 


Burning with lighted cigarettes. 


Threatening the victim's family. 


Genital torture (direct trauma to the sexual 


Placing the victim in a dark room, where a 

organ, hanging weight on testicles or 

bad smell provokes vomiting. 

blocking the urinary duct.) 


Forcing him to stand for a long time in severe 


Phalanga torture. 

cold and snow or in the hot sun. 


Pulling out of the hair. 




Placing the victim on barbed wire. 


Forcing him to walk while blindfolded. 


Wrapping wire around fingers. 


Taking blood from victims for militarv 


Introducing a bottle, a hot egg or bullets into 


the rectum. 


Isolation in bathrooms. 


Knocking out teeth. 


Forcing him to look directly towards a 500 


Pulling out nails. 

watt bulb for a long period. 


Fracturing different bones. 


Keeping the victim in a damp cell with many 


Suffocating, burning. 

kinds of insects. 


Burning the beards and pulling out the 


Forcing him to stand on one leg and to raise 


his hands. 


Tniiirintr flip skin and mittincr salt on wounds 

1111 111 OlVlll CllH.1 IJlllllllli SAIL KJll WVJLllldO. 


Showintr pyppiifinn and tnrtnrp sppnps to 

OllVJWlllfci ^.A^ClllUJll tJllU lAJlllllt* 3v^Ut<5 l\J 


Pouring boiling water on head. 

intimidate the victim. 


Putting hot steel in the palms. 


Deprivation of normal water and giving salty 


Using chemical substances to cause irritation 


and itching. 


Forcing the victim to take unknown 


Pricking the tongue with pins. 



Tying to a tree for a long time and at the 


Threatening the victim with execution. 

same time kicking and punching. 


Threatening the victim with long-term 


Pulling the victim by vehicle with his hands 


and feet tied. 


Preventing the victim from carrying out his 


Putting weights on the head. 

bodily functions. 


Putting the prisoner in cubic blocks. 


Threatening to shoot the victim and shooting 


Drilling the thigh bone. 

around him. 


Burying the victim up to his neck. 

Source, Mohammad Azam Dadfar, M.D., The Impaired Mind. 

page 138 

"Physical symptoms like scars, burns, fracture, missing teeth, deformed finger 
joints, hemiparesia and deafness etc. are found in 61% of the victims. 89% of 
the victims are suffering from somatic pains such as headaches, migraine 
attacks, pain in the joints and bones, muscle cramps, gastric pains, dysurea etc. 
All of these victims suffer from mental disorders like irritability, 
aggressiveness, startle reaction, emotional disturbances, anxiety, depression, 
intellectual disorders and psychosomatic complaints." 62 

6.43 Those Afghans who experienced torture did not view themselves only as 
victims. Dr. Dadfar described the interaction of the torturer and the tortured this way: 

(a) "It is a challenge between the brutality and human dignity. There exist 
two poles, one side the torturer and his brutality and on the other side the 
suffering and dignity of the victim. The resistance of the victim against the act 
of torture is not just safeguarding the secrets but also a protest of human 
dignity and innocence. . . . 

(b) "A prisoner who had been detained in Pul-e-Charkhi for five years 
says: 'I did not have very important information to conceal. I was innocent 
(even for the enemy) but I did not want to speak. I chose to keep silent. I was 
subjected to terrible torture. I suffered a great deal. The torture was beyond 
the limits of normal human resistance but I bore it because I think my 
resistance to torture was a resistance to tyranny and to the suppression of free 
thought and free speech. I chose to resist torture and I considered my 
resistance a small part of the resistance of my people to invasion.'" 63 

6.44 Appendix 6.A contains a selection of testimonies about torture by victims, 
perpetrators, and other witnesses. 

6.45 Specialized devices used for administering electric shocks were reportedly not 
manufactured in Afghanistan. One of the patients treated by Dr. Dadfar drew a 
diagram of one of these devices (Figure 6.1). A former police official from Qandahar 
told Human Rights Watch that during the monarchy, the Afghan police had imported 
electric shock batons from West Germany for use in controlling demonstrations. 
Sometimes, he said, they had also been used to torture criminal suspects. Col. 
Mohammad Ayoub Assil, a professor of criminology at the Kabul Police Academy 
until his defection in 1982, told Human Rights Watch in an interview in New York 
City on April 21, 1983, that shock batons had been imported from East Germany 
since 1978. The "earphones" and the "telephone box" described by various torture 
victims and depicted in Figure 6.1 were manufactured in the Soviet Union or East 
Germany, according to a former KhAD agent interviewed by Human Rights Watch in 
Peshawar on September 30, 1984. He said that he had seen markings on the 
equipment indicating their country of origin. 64 

Dadfar, Impaired Mind 15. 

Dadfar, Impaired Mind 6-7. 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries . 


6.46 Several witnesses also described a torture device allegedly imported from the 
USSR or East Germany for the first time in 1984. An eighteen-year-old girl said she 
was tortured with it in Sheshdarak for fifteen days after her arrest in the fall of 1984 
for distributing opposition leaflets. 

"For the electric shocks there was a new machine brought from the Soviet 
Union. They fixed wires around the wrist. There was a chair on which they 
made you sit. They tied us to it and connected the wires to the electricity. Then 
they pushed a switch. The chair turned around in a circle. When they 
connected it to the electricity, the chair moved so fast it made me dizzy. I was 
tortured like this for fifteen days, between one and four in the morning. . . . 
We felt it was a Soviet-made machine, because the members of KhAD were 
talking about it among themselves, saying that the new imported machine 
works well and really makes the people confess easily." 65 

6.47 Several former police and security officials also described this device. Col. 
Assil claimed it was imported from East Germany in 1984. 66 A former KhAD official 
had heard about it from friends who worked in detention centers: "There are wires, 
lines in the chair. You push the button, and the electricity starts. The chair also turns 
at 1,000 RPM." 67 

6.48 Many testimonies described the role of KhAD 's Soviet advisers. A former 
KhAD official explained to Human Rights Watch: 

"The Soviets have an office in Kabul controlling KhAD. The ordinary work, 
like collecting information, can be done by Afghans. Then they take it for 
analysis by Soviets. The office is in a former private house on Dar-ul-Aman 
Road, between Habibia High School and the Soviet Embassy." 68 

6.49 According to some reports, Soviet advisers were also present in the 
interrogation centers. Amnesty International reported, "Many of the testimonies 
available to Amnesty International refer to the presence of Soviet personnel when 
prisoners are being interrogated under torture. In many of these cases, prisoners state 
that Soviet personnel are present during torture and participate in or direct 
interrogation while the physical application of torture is left to Afghans." 69 Amnesty 
added, "In a few cases, allegations extend to some actual participation by Soviet 
personnel in the physical application of torture. . . . Allegations that Soviet personnel 
are present during torture and give orders for it to be inflicted have been made not 

65 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 57-58. Testimony of former student from 
Zarghuna High School; interviewed in Islamabad, August 28, 1985. 

66 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 57-58. Testimony of Col. Mohammad 
Ayoub Assil, former professor at the Police Academy and director of the passport department, Ministry 
of the Interior; interviewed in Peshawar, August 17, 1985. 

67 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 59. Testimony of a former official of the 
security apparatus; interviewed in Peshawar, August 17, 1985. 

68 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 146. Interview in Peshawar, September 20, 1984. 

69 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 17. 

page 140 

only regarding those present in KhAD centers but also regarding military personnel in 
the field." 70 

6.50 Human Rights Watch cited some examples. A bank employee who was 
detained reported: 

"The very important people are taken to be questioned by the Russians. There 
was someone like that in my room in Sedarat. He was a Khalqi. Part of his 
family was captured by the Russians, and they said that he was active with the 
mujahidin. They searched his house and found some acids." 71 

6.5 1 According to a former physics student: 

"Two of the people with me in the cell in Sedarat were interrogated by 
Soviets. They were more 'guilty' than I was. They had been employees of the 
U.S. Embassy, and they took them for CIA agents. Of course, they were just 
typists, and they had been working there with the consent of the Afghan 
government." 72 

6.52 Qadratullah, a farmer from Qala-i Murad Beg, north of Kabul, told Human 
Rights Watch that he had been tortured by two Soviets with an Afghan interpreter, 
and the former bank employee reported that the head of KhAD office in Kart-i Seh 
was a Russian who spoke Pashto and Persian. 73 

6.53 A resistance fighter under Commander Abdul Haq of Kabul Province was 
arrested around February 12, 1983, the morning after he had helped destroy an electric 
pylon. According to Human Rights Watch, he was allegedly tortured first in the Fifth 
Office of KhAD (the counterinsurgency office) and then in Sedarat. He described the 
role of Soviets as follows: 74 

(a) "In KhAD Fifth Office Russians were coming and interrogating us. 
The Russians asked, 'Where is your base? Why did you join the ashrar [evil 
ones]? Why did you use rifles against the government?' He had a translator, 
but he spoke Persian. I said, 'I don't have a base.' He asked, 'Why are you an 
ashrar?' I said, 'We are not ashrar, we are people working the land.' If we 
agreed we are ashrar, they would have killed us. During that session I was not 
tortured. The Soviets gave the order, and then the Afghans gave the torture. 

(b) "In Sedarat there were many, many Soviets. There were many Soviet 
advisers supervising the interrogators, giving advice on how to give torture. 
They were working as sort of inspectors of the interrogators. One adviser 

70 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 18-19. 

71 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 147. Testimony of a bank employee interviewed in 
Peshawar, September 25, 1984. 

72 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 147. Anwar-ul-Haq, former physics student in Kabul; 
interviewed in Peshawar, September 29, 1984. 

73 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 147. Interviews in Peshawar on September 
25 and 30, 1984. 

74 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 64. 


interviewed me there. He asked me, 'Why did you oppose the government and 
join the ashrar? What was the main reason?' But if I told him, they would 
execute me. So I said, 'I am poor, a peasant's son, and I have never been an 
ashrar. ' He had an interpreter who spoke Persian. That time I was beaten, 
slapped, and kicked. The Soviet adviser beat me with his hand and kicked and 
punched me. Only Afghans gave the electric shocks, but the Soviets were 
ordering them to do it. 

(c) "The Soviets asked more complicated questions. The Soviets would 
ask, 'Why did you destroy the pylons? Why did you want to cut off the 
electricity? Why did you become an ashrar? Why do you destroy mosques, 
villages, government buildings?' The Afghans only asked simple questions, 
like, 'Where is your base? Why are you against the government?'" 75 

6.54 Several sources reported that many KhAD agents learned their trade during 
three- to six-month training courses in the Soviet Union. 76 A former KhAD agent also 
told Human Rights Watch that the Soviets had established a school near Kabul to 
teach interrogation techniques. 

"I saw torture in Sheshdarak, and I also saw that some people are trained how 
to torture. The class was somewhere between Kabul and Paghman, in 
'Company.' [An area where the headquarters of the American company that 
built the Kabul-Kandahar highway was located, which had come to be known 
as 'Company.'] I went there with someone important and saw them writing 
something on the blackboard. There are soundproof rooms where they beat 
and torture people there. They have these in the Ministry of the Interior, too. 
They show them theoretically and practically, and some have also gone to the 
Soviet Union." 77 

6.55 A Human Rights Watch Report quoted a mullah from Qandahar, Fida 
Muhammad describing his experience when he was taken to a temporary command 
center near Qandahar: 

"After some beating the [Soviet] soldiers took me to a small container. There 
they put several straps around my ankles and wrists, then they put a small box 
on my head and tied it there. After that they put one string [wire] in one black 
box, and immediately I felt a strong shock. The shock was so huge that I 
shouted loudly, without any shame from my fellow villagers who were still 
outside in the Qila [small fort]. They repeated the shocks several times, then 

75 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 65. Testimony of Nader Khan, son of 
Muhammad Anwar Khan, twenty-three, of Tangi Gharo area, Deh Sabz District, Kabul Province; 
interviewed in Peshawar, August 21, 1985. 

76 See interview with Abdul Majid Mangal, charge d'affaires at the Afghan Embassy in Moscow until 
his defection in March 1984, Afghan Realities . May 15-31, 1984. See also Olivier Roy, "La politique 
de pacification sovietique en Afghanistan," in La guerre d'Afghanistan . ed. Andre Brigot (Paris: 
Documentation Francaise, 1984); and Edward Girardet, Afghanistan: The Soviet War (New York: St. 
Martin's Press, 1985). 

77 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 148. Testimony of a former KhAD agent; interviewed in 
Peshawar, September 30, 1984. 

page 142 

the translator came to the small room and told me, if you do not cooperate 
with us, we will kill you in such a terrible way." 

6.56 The Soviet soldiers also tied a noose around his neck, threw the rope over a 
mulberry tree, and pretended they were about to hang him. This went on for twenty 



6.57 In a July 23, 1984, interview, Dr. Robert Simon, an American specialist in 
emergency medicine who ran a clinic in Kunar Province in May 1984, described an 
old man who had lost his toes: 

"He actually came for another complaint, but I asked him how he had lost his 
toes. He told me that the Russian soldiers made him stand barefoot in the snow 
while they asked him where the mujahidin were." 79 

6.58 Human Rights Watch also reported that a French doctor, Gilles Albanel, 
treated a victim of interrogation during the Logar offensive of January 1983. The 
patient, a fifty-year-old man, had three gunshot wounds over a week old, in the wrist, 
leg, and arm. The doctors had to amputate (he did not specify which limb, or both). 
The man had been interrogated by a Soviet officer through an interpreter about the 
whereabouts of the "French doctors" in Logar: "After the questioning, these four old 
men did not reveal the information which was required, they were put up against the 
wall and executed." The patient had been wounded but escaped with his life. 

6.59 According to various reports, these policies changed for the better after the 
start of the policy of National Reconciliation under President Najibullah. In 
September 1987, after his first visit to Afghanistan, during which he reported that he 
received full cooperation from the authorities, Professor Ermacora reported that he 
had "received information from very reliable witnesses residing in Afghanistan that 
no cases of torture of the kind described in . . . previous reports had been reported 
during the past six months," though ill-treatment in the prisons continued. 80 He 
reported some instances of torture the following years, but the policy did not appear to 
be systematic. In 1990 Human Rights Watch reported that "the practice of torture, 
which was systematic and widespread, has also declined but some forms of torture 
and mistreatment persist." 81 

78 Yusuf Pashtun, the current governor of Qandahar who was then using the pseudonym "Engineer 
Ayoubi," interviewed Fida Muhammad. He reported: "He showed the signs of blue scars and some 
bloodstained areas, and his ankles and wrists, which had scars like stripes due to electrification effects. 
He showed wounds on the head." (Cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 148.) Amnesty 
International cited a former prisoner from Qandahar who was tortured with a "small device which 
looked like a microphone" hooked up to "a machine that looked like a computer screen." A Soviet 
officer supervised the torture. See Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 

79 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 148. 

80 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/42/667, 1987) para. 42. 

81 Asia Watch, Afghanistan: The Forgotten War — Human Rights Abuses and Violations of the Laws 
of War since the Soviet Withdrawal (New York: 1991). 


6.60 One exception was the treatment of those arrested in connection with the 
Tanai coup in March 1990. The UN Special Rapporteur, Amnesty International, and 
Human Rights Watch received reports that some of these detainees were tortured. 
Ermacora reported an allegation that Brigadier Abdul Sami Azizi had been tortured to 
death. 82 Amnesty International reported an incident as late as 1989, described by a 
former security officer, "in which a prisoner's children were reportedly fetched and 
tortured in front of him in order to extract his 'confession' to alleged anti-state 
activity." 83 

C. Forced Conscription, Including of Child Soldiers 

6.61 Professor Ermacora reported: 

(a) "61. [I]n 1982, the regulations concerning the age for drafting into the 
army had been lowered to 15 years. There was forced conscription and the 
term of military service went up first from two to three years in 1982 and then 
to four years in 1984. 

(b) "62. The Special Rapporteur had learned that the conscription goes on, 
depriving universities and schools from male students. In addition, it would 
appear that the conscription system is governed by severe discriminatory 
methods: for example, students belonging to families that adhere to the 
communist party or sympathize with it have the privilege of not becoming a 
member of the army at the age of 15, thus having the chance to continue their 
studies, at home or abroad." 84 

6.62 According to human rights reports, those captured in such dragnets could be 
imprisoned in temporary detention camps in the field or turned over to KhAD for 
interrogation about the resistance. Most of them were ultimately inducted into the 
Afghan Army, often regardless of age or previous military service. Men and boys 
were reportedly forcibly enrolled and even killed in action without their families 
knowing anything, other than that soldiers took them away one day. 85 

6.63 Human Rights Watch reported on a number of forced conscriptions. 
Qadratullah, thirty-nine, a farmer and mujahid from Qala-i Murad Beg, a village just 
north of Kabul, was arrested by a mixed Soviet- Afghan army unit in his village in the 
summer of 1983 and taken in a Soviet armored vehicle to the KhAD headquarters in 
Sedarat. In an interview in Peshawar on September 29, 1984, conducted by Human 
Rights Watch, Qadratullah reported that he was tortured by a team of two Russians 
and a Parchami. He was sentenced to a year in prison. Upon his release from prison he 

82 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/45/664, 1990) para. 52; Amnesty International, Reports of Torture and 
Long-term Detention Without Trial ASA 1 1/01/91 (London: 1991)4. 

83 Amnesty International, Reports of Torture and Long-term Detention Without Trial 4. 

84 A/40/843 (1985) para. 61-62. 

85 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 140. 

page 144 

was inducted into the army and sent to Qandahar, from which, after three months, he 
escaped with a group of twenty-six other soldiers. 86 

6.64 A student from Qandahar reported his detention, mistreatment, and forced 

"They took us to Kandahar Jail in the Sarpuza quarter. Inside the prison they 
had a separate place for those arrested for military service. There were about 
150 people there. Then they took us to another room, with about 40 to 45 other 
people. There was no carpet, and the floor was wet. It was Ramazan; we were 
fasting and could eat only at night, but they did not give us any food. For 
about twenty days we were just given a piece of bread in the evening, nothing 
else. Then some Russian advisers along with Afghan soldiers registered us for 
military service. We were sent to Mazar-i Sharif. We spent four days there, 
and then twelve of us escaped. We came back to Kandahar — it took us twenty- 
four days." 87 

6.65 In 1986 and 1987, though political persecution and torture reportedly became 
less severe, according to human rights reports, forced conscription of prisoners 
remained an extremely common practice, even for prisoners arrested for anti-regime 
activity. A Human Rights Watch report noted that on April 26, 1987, the DRA 
published a decree providing for certain categories of prisoners to be pardoned and 
then conscripted rather than released. Human Rights Watch recounted several cases 
of such forced conscription in detail. 88 

6.66 As noted above, the DRA lowered the age of conscription to fifteen years and 
sometimes forcibly enrolled children who were even younger in the army. In addition 
to child soldiers, however, both sides in the Afghan conflict allegedly also used 
children to spy and assassinate. According to reports, sometimes children trained by 
the Soviets were captured, deprogrammed, and sent to spy for the resistance. In 1986, 
Ermacora reported to the General Assembly: 

"A 16-year-old boy informed the Special Rapporteur that he had been sent to 
the Soviet Union against his will, trained for two months in espionage and 
forced to collect information on the activities of opposition movements based 
at Peshawar." 89 

6.67 As reported by Human Rights Watch, a former KhAD official claimed: 

"They have an organization called Pioneers, for teenagers or younger children. 
They send them to the Soviet Union. Then after six months' training or so they 
come back, and then they are sent to different areas to collect information. 

86 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 140. 

87 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 130. Muhammad Ashraf, eighteen, former high school 
student from Qandahar; interviewed in Quetta, October 3, 1984. 

88 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict . 

89 A/4 1/778 (1986) para. 51. 


Last year about ten of them were captured in Panjshir, and some were also 
captured in Ghazni and Herat, and other places." 90 

6.68 Mohammad Eshaq, representative of Ahmad Shah Massoud in Peshawar and a 
political officer of Jamiat-i Island, also referred to the cases of child spies captured by 
Massoud in Panjshir: 

"They are using children. And mujahidin are setting them free. The 
Communists are using them against mujahidin, but after some time the 
mujahidin are giving them back to their families, in Kabul. So this is a very 
humanitarian gesture, but it is one-sided, because they are not stopping that. 
They are doing it over and over and over. And some of these children are 
under the age of twelve, or ten, so it's very difficult to try them. And when 
they send them, they don't think about their safety at all. A boy who is from 
Paktia [a Pashtun area] is sent to Panjshir [a Tajik area]. He is immediately 
recognized. These people have been sent to the Soviet Union as Pioneers, and 
these people have been sent to Peshawar as well, and these people have also 
been captured. But this is a problem. Because some of them, their families do 
not know about them. They have been taken by force and sent somewhere." 91 

6.69 A number of these children were allegedly captured by the resistance and were 
being held in re-education centers in Pakistan. Human Rights Watch had the 
opportunity to interview some of them, and documented their cases. As one example 
of such documented cases, a boy named Nairn, by then about twelve years old, told 
Human Rights Watch in Peshawar on August 18, 1985, 92 that he had been attending 
school in Qandahar when a Soviet officer took him and three other students to an 
office of the Youth Organization behind the Qandahar garrison, where he lived for 
seven months, going home only on Fridays. He then went to a location outside 
Tashkent, then in the USSR, together with six other Afghan boys: "Some of them 
said that their fathers forced them to go, and some of them said that they were there 
without the permission of their parents. They were taken from schools. They were not 
orphans. The parents didn't know they were there." He stayed in the USSR for six 
months. He learned to use weapons and was taught to spy on and assassinate 

"After breakfast, we were taken by vehicles to an army base. There they taught 
us to use pistols, Kalashnikovs. We learned that we should go to the centers of 
mujahidin and tell them that we are orphans, ask for money from them, spend 
the night there with them, and then come and report. They taught us that the 

90 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 190. Testimony of a former KhAD agent, interviewed in 
Peshawar, September 30, 1984. 

91 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 190. Engineer Mohammad Eshaq, representative of Panjshir 
Valley resistance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud; interviewed in Peshawar, September 24, 1984. 
Eshaq represented Massoud in Washington in 2000-2001 and served as director of Radio-Television in 
Afghanistan 2003. 

92 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 85-87. Reuters . London, June 12, 1984, had 
previously carried an account of Nairn, who was interviewed by a young Briton named Adam 

page 146 

Americans and the Chinese were in Afghanistan. In the afternoon they took us 
for volleyball." 

6.70 When he returned to Afghanistan, he went back to living in the Youth 
Organization office behind the Afghan division in Chawk-i Shahidan in Qandahar. 
He was paid af. 1,000 ($20 at the official exchange rate at the time) per month. He 
claimed to have been the commander of other boys who had not gone to the USSR. 
He reported that they were seven to nine years old. He claimed that they would try to 
ambush mujahidin, and that he would take wounded children from his group to the 
hospital. He told of one battle on the outskirts of Qandahar where some of the boys 
were killed: 

"One time there were two hundred kids, and one hundred of them were 
wounded by bombs. I was hit here [indicating over left eyebrow]. Some of 
them were killed, I don't know how many. This was in Mahalajat, three 
kilometers from Kandahar. We were going in front of a Soviet convoy. The 
Soviet forces were going after the mujahidin, and we were going in front. 
Then fighting started between the mujahidin and the Russians. And all of a 
sudden the jet fighters came and bombed that area. We were just walking in 
front of the Russians, with our pistols out. The secretary of the Youth 
Organization told us to go to Mahalajat, because the Russian forces were 
going there, to get reports about where the mujahidin were. I remember a few 
names of boys who were killed: Nasir, Bashir, Wali Mohammad, Torialai, Gol 
Jan, Gholam Ali, Nangialai." 93 

D. Conditions of Detention and Imprisonment 

6.71 Interrogation and torture took place in KhAD detention centers, where 
abysmal conditions reportedly became an integral part of the torture process designed 
to break the prisoner. Detainees held in Sedarat described conditions similar to those 
that prevailed in Pul-i Charkhi in 1978-79: overcrowding to the point where the 
prisoners could not sit, no furnishings, lice and bedbugs everywhere, toilet visits in 
groups once a day, prisoners with diarrhea who soiled the cell. 94 

6.72 Amnesty International also reported on a provincial prison in the far northwest 
of the country: 

"I was arrested in Daulatabad [Faryab] on February 28, 1982. They took 80 
peasants to Andkhoy prison. Throughout the journey we were blindfolded, and 
for the whole month I was imprisoned in Andkhoy it was the same. My cell 
was dark, without any light, 3 m by 2 m. . . . Then [after beatings] they took 
me to a subterranean prison, also in Andkhoy. There were five cells 
underground. There were 130 prisoners in my cell. We did not wear 
blindfolds, but the cell had no light. All we had to eat was dry bread." 95 

93 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 85-87. 

94 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 150. Anwar-ul-Haq, former physics student; interviewed in 
Peshawar, September 29, 1984. 

95 Testimony of a shepherd from Faryab Province. Quoted in Amnesty International, Amnesty 
International Newsletter 5, File on Torture . 


6.73 After interrogation by KbAD, most prisoners were reportedly transferred to 
Pul-i Charkhi Prison, where they often waited for many months without being 
charged or tried. The exact number of prisoners in Pul-i Charkhi Prison in the early 
and mid-1980s was not certain. According to an Amnesty International report 
published in 1986, "estimates of the total number of prisoners vary, but Amnesty 
International believes that it is probably well in excess of 10,000. One block is said to 
be occupied by ordinary criminal prisoners, but they were estimated to be not more 
than about 1,000 of the total in prison." 96 In 1989 the UN Special Rapporteur reported 
that the government claimed to have released 16,1 10 prisoners since 1986. 97 

6.74 Conditions varied among the blocks, which were (are) arranged like the 
spokes on a wheel. There was a separate section for women. Testimonies from former 
prisoners give some idea of the miserable conditions to which prisoners were 
subjected before the prison population was reduced after 1986. Journalist John 
Fullerton described the experience of Tobah Hamid, a former university student who 
had been imprisoned in the women's section of Pul-i Charkhi after forty-six days in 
KhAD detention: 

"She joined 34 other women in a large cell, including a nine-year-old girl and 
two female informers. The place was bare save for the constantly burning light 
bulb and a few blankets the more fortunate inmates had managed to obtain on 
the all-too-rare family visits to the jail. Washing was not permitted. All the 
women suffered from body sores. Tobah still bears the scars. Most of them 
were sick most of the time. All had been tortured with varying degrees of 
severity. They were forbidden to talk to each other. They could not see out of 
the room and sunlight did not penetrate the small, barred window. The 
highlight of their existence consisted of a twice-daily visit to the lavatory." 98 

6.75 Qadir, a former university student who was imprisoned in Pul-i Charkhi Prison 
in 1980, told Human Rights Watch in an interview in Peshawar on September 29, 
1984, about humiliation associated with access to toilet facilities and severe 

(a) "There were a lot of strange and criminal stories. There was a retired 
army officer, an old man. One day he had blood diarrhea. The diet gave 
everyone diarrhea; it was rare to have a normal stomach. Once he tried to go to 
the bathroom, but it was morning. The guard told him, 'Shut up! You are 
ashrar! You burned schools and the Holy Koran.' The old man was nearly 
dying. He forced open the door and ran to the bathroom. The guard took a belt 
and hit him, and when he came back, his face was all covered with blood. 

(b) "For seven or eight nights I was alone in a very dark room. I couldn't 
see anyone but the guard, who threw me a piece of bread now and then. Then I 

96 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 22. 

97 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 989/24.) para. 34. 

98 John Fullerton, The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan (Hong Kong: Far Eastern Economic Review, 
1983) 141. 

page 148 

was brought into a room with about twelve people. Once one of them had his 
whole back on the ground, and this caused a quarrel. People asked, 'Why are 
you putting your whole back on the ground?' There was not enough room! At 
night, when we wanted to turn on our shoulder, we had to wake all the other 

(c) "In twenty-four hours we could go once to the bathroom for five 
minutes, at six o'clock. You know, defecation is a natural thing. Some people 
were in urgent need of it, so we stood up and held our patous [a type of cloak 
worn in the winter] around them, and they did it in the cell." 99 

6.76 As reported by Human Rights Watch, a former official of Pul-i Charkhi told 
Human Rights Watch of a special block of cells where "dangerous" prisoners were 
kept chained in cages, with no room to stand up. He drew a diagram, showing a 
three-story building inside and to the left of the main gate. He knew these cells from 
various perspectives: 

"I was the commander there, and then I was imprisoned there [under the 
Taraki regime]. I spent eight months there, because I permitted some prisoners 
to walk in the sun. At that time the construction had not been completed, but 
now it is completed. There is no central heating. Actually, it has a heating 
system, but they don't turn it on, because they want the prisoners to be 
cold." 100 

6.77 In a separate interview in a different year, a former prisoner confirmed the 
description to Human Rights Watch: "We were in a cage in Pul-i Charkhi. In this 
cage, you can't stand up, and we were handcuffed to the side of the cage." 101 

6.78 These conditions set off a hunger strike by some of the prisoners in May 1982. 
Two of the former prisoners Human Rights Watch met, civil engineer Muhammad 
Nabi Umarkhel and high school teacher Dad Mohammad, had participated in the 
strike. Dad Muhammad was considered a leader, and hence his sentence was 
lengthened by six months. He described it as follows in the Human Rights Watch 

"In Jauza 1361 [May- June 1982] we started a movement in jail over the 
difficulties in prison. There was no good food, too many were sick, there was 
no medicine. There was one bathroom for five hundred people. The condition 
of the food was so bad that many had dysentery. The electricity didn't work 
because the mujahidin had cut the power lines. The water was scarce, and we 
couldn't wash. In each block there was one doctor, and he was for the KGB 
agents, not the prisoners. The worst torture was the lack of bathrooms. 
Prisoners could not speak to each other. Every Friday night we were all 
searched. There was psychological torture: they would wake us up at night and 

99 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 152-153. 

100 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 67-68. Testimony of former official of 
Pul-i Charkhi Prison; interviewed in Peshawar, August 25, 1985. 

101 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 68. Testimony of Muhammad Hasan, 
former employee of the Ministry of Water and Power in Kabul, where he worked as an agent of the 
Jamiat-i Islami resistance party; interviewed in Islamabad, August 28, 1985. 


check us. There were so many prisoners we could not lie on the floor. Most 
couldn't walk, from sitting on their knees for a long time on the concrete floor. 
There were many parasites, lice. We started a hunger strike. Twenty of us 
were punished our sentences were increased. Most of the people were just 
beaten." 102 

6.79 When the prisoners started a hunger strike, Engineer Umarkhel said, the 
guards threatened them: 

"They warned us, 'If you don't eat the food, you will be responsible for what 
the government will do.' Soldiers came with guns and started beating us in the 
rooms. They moved people from the second block [where the strike began] to 
the third block. They tortured people in the first and second blocks. Then they 
started the investigation. They put about seventeen persons they considered 
leaders in a small room. They took their patous [cloaks, used for warmth and 
as blankets] and shoes away. The room was all wet with water. They brought 
more water two or three times. In the morning they started the investigation. 
But they punished us before the investigation." 103 

6.80 Starting in 1987, the Special Rapporteur reported a series of amnesties that 
reduced overcrowding in the prisons and continual, if gradual, improvement in prison 
conditions. Human Rights Watch echoed these observations. 104 These trends 
generally continued until the collapse of the government in April 1992, though there 
were instances of repression in relation to specific events, such as the Tanai coup in 
March 1990. 

6.81 After the attempted coup by Defense Minister Shahnawaz Tanai in March 
1990, Human Rights Watch reported arrests of 644 people held without any legal 
procedure for up to several months. In marked contrast to previous years, Human 
Rights Watch was able to discuss these arrests in Kabul with President Najibullah and 
the Minister of State Security (WAD, the new name of KhAD), Ghulam Faruq 
Ya'qubi. 105 

E. Trials, Sentences, and Executions 

6.82 According to testimonies given to Human Rights Watch, some prisoners — 
presumably judged "not guilty" — would wait in prison, often for months, without 
charges or a trial, and then be released without explanation. 106 Reportedly, they often 
had to sign a pledge not to oppose the government as a condition of release. 

102 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 154. Dad Muhammad, interviewed in Peshawar, September 
26, 1984. 

103 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 154. Muhammad Nabi Umarkhel, interviewed in Peshawar, 
September 27, 1984. 

104 E/CN.4/1 989/24 para. 25, 34-36, 40; Asia Watch, The Forgotten War . 

105 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War . 

106 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 156. 

page 150 

6.83 Those considered guilty were presented with a document called the surat-i 
da'awa, a "statement of accusation" or indictment issued by KhAD. Former high 
school teacher Dad Muhammad showed Human Rights Watch his surat-i da'awa. 
Under KhAD letterhead, it listed the conclusions of the investigation, named the laws 
under which the defendant was charged, and recommended a sentence to the 
Revolutionary Court. 107 

6.84 A prisoner could not meet with family members or lawyers, confront 
witnesses, or prepare a defense. According to human rights reports, in many cases the 
main evidence was a confession obtained under torture, and prisoners were at times 
not informed of their trial until the night before it was to begin. They were reported to 
have been transferred to Pul-i Charkhi Prison to the KhAD's headquarters in Sedarat, 
where the Special Revolutionary Court held its sessions. 108 

6.85 Amnesty International commented on the lack of due process: 

"No accounts suggest that prisoners tried by special revolutionary courts have 
had access to defence counsel or that either defence or prosecution witnesses 
are present. . . . Members of special revolutionary courts are PDPA members 
and in some cases recruited from KhAD itself; most do not have a legal or 
judicial background. Hearings are not public and relatives are unaware that 
trials are taking place, although a few trials are filmed for showing on 
television." 109 

6.86 KhAD, rather than the court, determined innocence or guilt. The court 
reportedly confirmed KhAD's guilty verdict and determined the sentence in accord 
with the recommendation of KhAD. Human Rights Watch reported that they had not 
heard of a single case in which someone judged guilty by KhAD was found not guilty 
by the court. 110 

6.87 The procedure was reported to be similar in the provinces, except that there 
were no regular sessions of the revolutionary courts there. From time to time judges 
of the Special Revolutionary Court came from Kabul to hold sessions. Abdul Wahid, 
who was in prison in Jalalabad for two years and seventeen days, described to Syed 
Fazl Akbar (former director of Radio Kabul and, in 2004, governor of Kunar 
province) a visit by members of the special revolutionary court to the Jalalabad central 

"The Communist judges ordered the execution of the 12 detainees who were 
lying there without trial for the last more than two years. . . . 200 more 
detainees were punished with from 3 to 20 years of imprisonment because 
they defected from the army. With some of them they had captured cards of 
the mujahidin groups. I was also imprisoned for 3 years without knowing the 

107 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 156. 

108 According to Human Rights Watch, "A number of people we interviewed referred to it as 'KhAD 
court.'" Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 157. 

109 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 21. 


crime and the charge of my imprisonment. All the comments by KhAD 
department regarding these detainees were confirmed by the judges." 111 

6.88 These courts could also impose the death penalty, which had to be confirmed 
by the Revolutionary Council, but which could not be appealed by the defendant. The 
Special Rapporteur noted in 1985 "that there is no judicial appeal against death 
sentences handed down by the Special Revolutionary Court in Afghanistan and that 
there is no record of amnesty, pardon or commutation of the death sentence," which 
contradicted the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which 
Afghanistan was a party. 112 

6.89 When Babrak Karmal became President of the Revolutionary Council of the 
DRA in 1980, he stated that the government deemed it its urgent duty to "abolish 
executions under favorable conditions." 113 He repeated these assurances to 
representatives of Amnesty International in Kabul in February 1980. 114 Nevertheless, 
the government continued to announce executions for several years, and the number 
increased dramatically after September 1984. 115 Moreover, reports cited below from 
former prisoners, defecting officials, and defecting prison personnel all claimed that 
actual executions far outnumbered those publicly announced. 

6.90 In 1980 the Kabul government announced eighteen executions, including 
seventeen former officials of the government of Hafizullah Amin and Abdul Majid 
Kalakani, leader of SAMA, the largest leftist party in the armed resistance, which also 
organized many of the student demonstrations in Kabul. The Alimyar brothers, 
Muhammad Siddiq and Muhammad Arif, who were reportedly charged with killing 
Mir Akbar Khyber and other "terrorist acts" on behalf of Hafizullah Amin, were 
among those reported executed at that time. 116 In July 1982 KhAD succeeded in 
capturing nineteen members of SAMA's central committee. The family of one, 
Engineer Zamari Sadiq, subsequently learned of his execution; the fate of the others 
was presumed to be the same by human rights organizations. 117 

6.91 In 1981 Kabul identified fourteen people who were executed. Sixteen 
executions were announced in 1982 and thirteen in 1983. 118 In 1984 the government 
announced sixty-eight executions and seventy-seven death sentences. In 1985 the 

110 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 158-160, has several examples. 

111 Afghan Realities . May 1-15, 1984: 5. 

112 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 986/24) para. 53. 

113 Kabul Times . January 1, 1980. 

114 Amnesty International, Annual Report 1980 179. 

115 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 159. 

116 According to Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past: The Legacy of War Crimes and 
the Political Transition in Afghanistan (October 2004) 17, a former Khalqi, Muhammad Siddiq 
Alimyar, who was involved with the killings in Kilara/Kerala, Kunar is alive and living in the 

117 Amnesty International, Democratic Republic of Afghanistan: Background Briefing . October 1983. 
SAMA is an acronym for Sazman-i Azadbakhsh-i Mardum-i Afghanistan (Liberation Organization of 
the People of Afghanistan). It is often described as Maoist. 

page 152 

government announced forty death sentences but seemed to stop announcing 
executions. Amnesty International believed that "these represented only a proportion 
of the total number of cases in which death sentences were imposed and carried 
out." 119 

6.92 Professor Abdul Ahad of the Agricultural Faculty of Kabul University was 
reported to have stated that, during his seven-month stay in Pul-i Charkhi from June 
1982 to January 1983, he saw a total of three hundred men taken out for execution at 
night, their mouths gagged and their hands tied behind them. 120 As'ad, an engineering 
student at Kabul University, was in Pul-i Charkhi twice, with a hiatus between 
December 1982 and April 1983. When he returned in April 1983, prisoners allegedly 
told him four hundred people had been executed while he was gone. 121 K, a high 
school student, told Human Rights Watch on September 24, 1984, that he saw twenty- 
five people executed at the Polygon field in fifteen days while he was in prison in 

1 98 1 . 122 Engineer Muhammad Nabi Umarkhel, interviewed in Peshawar on 
September 27, 1984, told Human Rights Watch, "Under Babrak many of the prisoners 
have been killed. . . . Silently, during the night, they were transferred for killing. Only 
a few persons are announced, the most famous. Sometimes they don't inform the 
person he is to be killed. At the trial the judges say, 'We will deal with your case 
later.' Then they come and kill them. Thousands have been killed. This process is 
current." 123 

6.93 On April 26, 1985, Reuters reported from New Delhi that Muhammad Yusuf 
Azim, a Supreme Court judge who had fled to India, "said he knew of at least 100 
cases in which it had been announced that people had been sentenced to death by the 
special courts. Many others were executed and their sentences recorded by the courts 
after the executions." He added, "Many of these victims never appear in court, and in 
these instances the special courts do not even know them." 

6.94 As reported in human rights documentation, former prisoners indicated that 
dozens of prisoners (perhaps as many as a hundred or more a week) were taken at 
night from Pul-i Charkhi for execution, and that executions (sometimes including 
extra-judicial executions) continued in other prisons around the country. Additional 
testimonies about these executions selected from human rights reports published in 
the 1980s are presented in Appendix 6.B. 

118 Based on Amnesty International, Democratic Republic of Afghanistan: Background Briefing . 
October 1983, Appendix 2, and wire service reports, cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 

119 Amnesty International, Annual Report 1985 (London: 1985) 197; Amnesty International, Annual 
Report 1986 (London: 1986) 207; Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 3. 

120 Unpublished interview with Borje Almquist, Swedish journalist, cited in Helsinki Watch, Tears. 
Blood, and Cries 160. Professor Abdul Ahad was later the principal author of the Agricultural Survey 
of Afghanistan , carried out by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan. He now lives in the US. 

121 Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin . 35, February 1984: 2-4, cited in Helsinki Watch, 
Tears. Blood, and Cries 160. 

122 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 162. 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 162. 


6.95 In 1988 the government of Afghanistan informed the UN Special Rapporteur 
that it had abolished the Special Revolutionary Courts and replaced them with a new 
system of national security courts, which, like other courts (but unlike the Special 
Revolutionary Courts) came under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Special 
Rapporteur characterized this change as an improvement that still did "not fully 
guarantee the rights of the accused." 124 

6.96 The death penalty continued to be imposed, but the number of executions was 
reported to diminish, and the administration of the death penalty was brought under 
greater judicial control. Ermacora reported in 1990: 

"Death sentences are still being pronounced but the respective trials follow a 
more regulated procedure and appear to be less arbitrary than before. The 
Special Rapporteur was also informed that capital punishment is applied in 
cases of terrorist acts or mass killings." 125 

6.97 President Najibullah told Human Rights Watch in Kabul in 1990 that there had 
been a moratorium on carrying out death sentences since 1989. 126 Amnesty 
International stated, "Dozens of people are reported to have been extra-judicially 
executed following the coup attempt" by Tanai and Hikmatyar in March 1990, and 
Human Rights Watch cited Pakistani press reports that fifty-four people had been 
sentenced to death for participation in that event. 127 

F. Deportation or Forcible Transfer of Population 

6.98 During the period 1984-1986, Afghans who spoke to the UN Special 
Rapporteur and human rights organizations told of the forcible separation of some 
children from their parents or family to be sent to the USSR without their consent. 
These abuses reportedly occurred as a result of programs administered by the Soviet 
Union and the DRA to send Afghan children to the USSR for either short or long 
periods of study. 

6.99 According to Professor Ermacora, writing in 1986: 

"The transfer of Afghan children abroad is effected through an institution 
known as 'Perwarischgahi watan' (homeland nursery) which was established 
in the former premises of the Afghan Red Crescent in Kabul in 1982. It is 
headed by Mrs. Karmal [wife of Babrak Karmal] and supervised by Dr. 
Naguib [i.e. Najibullah], the former head of Khad, which was recently 
transformed into ministry of State security. Outposts of this institution are 
also situated in the provincial capitals. According to the Kabul Times , such 
institutions exist in the cities of Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, 

124 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of 
Human Rights in Afghanistan" (A/43/742, 1988) para. 53. 

125 A/45/664 (1990) para. 56. 

126 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 92. 

127 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Reports of Torture and Long-Term Detention without Trial 
ASA 1 1/01/91 (London: 1991); Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 93. 

page 154 

Shiberghan, Lashkar Gah and Farah. The institution is organized on two 
levels, darulaman . organized like a kindergarten and afshar which takes 
children from 8 to 12 years. [Professor Ermacora here apparently confused the 
locations of the two branches, in the western Kabul neighborhoods of 
Darulaman and Afshar respectively, with their names.] The children in the 
institution are primarily orphans of soldiers of the Afghan army killed in the 
present conflict, children of Party members who are willing to send their 
children to the institution and children of members of the militia in the 
provinces. The Special Rapporteur was also informed of instances of children 
of parents who are not Party members being enrolled at the institution against 
their parents' will, the families being informed only subsequently. Several 
witnesses informed the Special Rapporteur that, in addition, the children of 
detainees were taken to these institutions. Children between the ages of 8 and 
10 are expected to spend 10 years in the institution, during which period they 
will also be trained abroad; the Special Rapporteur was told that the 
curriculum in the institution consisted of a general introduction to Marxism 
and Leninism, Russian language classes, musical education and according to 
certain witnesses, training in propaganda techniques." 128 

6.100 During the shorter tours abroad, children reportedly were sometimes required 
to engage in manual labor, as was common in Soviet Central Asia under the guise of 
"voluntary labor" by the Pioneers and Youth Organization, each of which had a 
homologue in Afghanistan. 129 An eleven-year-old from Kabul told how frightened he 
was that he would be sent to the USSR to work by the Peshahangan, who took 
students to the USSR "to pick apples or corn. Three times I ran away from the school 
to keep from going to Russia." 130 A former teacher told of her students' experience: 

"They were sending seventh and eighth grade students to the Soviet Union. 
When they came back, they were weak, worn out. I asked them why. They 
said, 'They were taking us by bus and forcing us to work on a farm or to wash 
carpets. We were forced to work a lot in Russia [the USSR].' They were sad 
and upset. They were also from our school." 131 

6.101 A number of reports claimed that force or deceit was sometimes used either to 
get the children to go or to lengthen their stays. A former teacher claimed that in her 
school the Pioneers and Youth Organization would send children to the USSR without 
their parents' permission, and she named two boys, Ilyas and Iqbal, eleven or twelve 
years old, who "went to Russia without their parents' agreement." 132 Dr. Zakia Bayati 
Safi, an obstetrician-gynecologist who had studied in the USSR (Sebastopol, Crimea) 
for seven years, told Human Rights Watch that parents "had no right to refuse" to 
send their children to the USSR: "They had to send them because of the fear that the 

128 E/CN.4/1 986/24 para. 65. 

129 Rumer, Central Asia: A Tragic Experiment ; Ron Synovitz, "Uzbekistan: Little Progress Seen in 
Agricultural Reforms," RFE/RL Report (February 25, 1997). 

130 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 72. Testimony of eleven-year-old former 
student at Deh-i Naw school, Kabul; interviewed in Peshawar, August 21, 1985. 

131 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 73. Testimony of former teacher from 
Kabul; interviewed in Peshawar, August 25, 1985. 

132 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 73. 


government will punish them. . . . When I asked [coworkers in Kabul], 'Why do you 
send your small children to the Soviet Union,' they said they had to, because there 
was no other way. I heard this personally from many patients I examined, from 
teachers, from nurses in the hospital." 133 An eleven-year-old former student said that 
two of his classmates, Naqib and Shah Jahan, were supposed to go to the USSR for 
three months but were then told they would go for ten years. The parents protested, 
but the students left. Naqib returned after a year and a half, and at the time of the 
interview, two years after the event, Shah Jahan had reportedly still not returned. The 
same student reported that when he was in third grade in Deh-i Naw School in Kabul, 
a uniformed official (he said "policeman") came to the school and took some students 
to go to the USSR, including Bashir, a fellow student from Panjshir whose father had 
died. 134 A former executive of a state corporation told Human Rights Watch: 

"Some parents were arrested. He was my close friend. He had three children — 
I forgot the school's name — in Kart-i Parwan. Two times they said, leave 
these children to send them to Soviet Union. They were eight and eleven. The 
name of their sons, one was Hamed, and the other was Seddiq. They were sent 
by force to the Soviet Union, and their father, Wali Jan, and his wife [named 
Seddiqa], they are in jail right now. Wali Jan was an ordinary man in private 
business, in the bazaar. He was in the business of spare parts for automobiles. 
First they arrested the parents, and then they sent the children. They were 
arrested about forty-five days ago. You know, this story happened, I saw it 
happen, and also there was a question to me, and this was the cause that I 
came to here." 135 

6. 102 Another Afghan woman obstetrician-gynecologist, interviewed at the Lycee of 
the Martyr Nahid in Peshawar, told Human Rights Watch on August 26, 1985, that 
one of her colleagues at work in Kabul was forced to search houses in poor 
neighborhoods of Kabul (Deh Mazang and Jamal Mina) "and find all those children 
who had no fathers and were being kept by their families." She went on: 

(a) "Their families were very sad and unhappy, and the mothers were 
crying. They took some kind of note from all of them and made a list. Then 
some soldiers came with a vehicle and took the children out from the houses 
by force, took them to the airport, and flew them to the Soviet Union. Of 
course, this was by force, not by their own will. No family, no matter how 
poor or hungry they are, could willingly send their innocent children to the 
Soviet Union, where they have no future. 

(b) "When this colleague of ours came, this colleague of ours was one of 
those party members, and she was working for them, and she herself told us 
with her own tongue, 'We have collected three thousand children from the 

133 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 73. Testimony of Dr. Zakia Bayati Safi, 
obstetrician-gynecologist, twenty-nine, of Kabul; interviewed in Peshawar, August 22, 1985. 

134 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 73-74. Testimony of eleven-year-old 
former student quoted above. 

135 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 78-79. Testimony of former executive of a 
government corporation, interviewed in Peshawar, August 19, 1985. 

page 156 

houses in one month.' She was a girl with human feelings, and she was crying 
and saying, 'We took people by force from their houses and sent them to the 
Soviet Union.'" 136 

6. 103 Fahima Naseri, the former science teacher who was tortured several times in 
KhAD, also reported several cases in her school: 

(a) "I know of students sent to the Soviet Union. I myself am a teacher, 
and they took students from my own classes, between seven and twelve years 
old. One of my students, Shah Wali, about twelve years old, was taken to the 
Soviet Union. His parents came and asked the principal, 'Where is our son?' 
The principal said, 'I don't know. He is lost.' This was last November [1984] 
in Ahmad Khan School in the Rika Khana neighborhood [of Kabul]. 

(b) "Then there was an old man, the school watchman. He had two sons, 
and he was a rather poor man. His wife, the mother of his sons, had died, and 
he had remarried. They asked him to send his sons to Parwarishgah-i Watan. 
They told him, 'You are poor, and they will be well taken care of there.' 
Finally he agreed and took them to Parwarishgah-i Watan. One day I greeted 
him and asked, 'How are your sons?' He said, 'Madam, a misfortune has 
struck me. They have sent my sons to the Soviet Union.'" 137 

136 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 80-8 1 . Testimony of Afghan obstetrician- 
gynecologist, interviewed in Peshawar, August 26, 1985. 

137 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 80-81. Testimony of Fahima Naseri, 
teacher; interviewed in Peshawar, August 27, 1985. 


Appendix 6A. Selected Testimonies of Torture 

6A. 1 The following extracts from testimonies illustrate the pattern of torture and 

6A.2 Testimony of Shafaq Torialai, twenty-eight, an army officer working for one 
of the resistance parties (Harakat-i Inqilab-i Island) when he was arrested in February 
1982 at his base in Ghazni and taken to KhAD office in the Ghazni citadel 
(interviewed in Paris, June 17, 1984): 1 

(a) "I stayed there for four or five days. They brought me into a room. 
There was a bench, and they had us [the prisoners] sit down. They brought 
captured resistance fighters before us, and they tore out their fingernails, 
saying 'This is what will happen to you, if you don't confess.' The Russians 
and the Afghans both did this. The majority were Russians, and there were a 
few interpreters. The person whose fingernails they tore out fainted several 

(b) "Once some of the Russians and the Afghan interpreters took us at 
night into the gardens of Ghazni, where there were poplar trees. They pulled 
down the tops of two poplars and tied ropes to them, and they tied one arm of 
one of the prisoners to one of the trees and the other arm to the other tree. 
Then they released the poplars, and the prisoner's arms were pulled off, and he 
was killed. They call that, 'making vests.' They told us, 'If you don't confess, 
this will happen to you too.' 

(c) "The afternoon of the fifth day they told me my interrogation was over, 
and that I would be shot. But that night they took me to Kabul. They started to 
torture me again in Kabul. I was in a room with such a low ceiling that it was 
impossible to stand up, about 1 m by 1 .5 m, and I was there with two other 
prisoners. It was in Pul-i Charkhi. These were underground rooms for the most 
dangerous prisoners. 

(d) "The torture there was always by electricity, with electric shock 
batons. One day during the interrogation, one of the Soviets got angry and hit 
me with his Kalashnikov in the mouth, and I lost three teeth. I was tortured 
two to four hours a day, every day, for about a year. There were different 
people torturing me. There were Afghans who spoke Pashto and there were 
Soviet officers. The Soviets tortured more, and they asked more questions. 
They did not let you sleep. 

(e) "They gave the shocks between the toes, between the fingers, on the 
temple. I often fell unconscious. One day they hung me up on a wall, where 
there were big hooks. They didn't let me sleep, eat, or drink for forty-eight 
hours. My arms were stretched out wide, and the hands were tied to the hooks, 
and there were rings around my feet. This caused a great pain in the stomach 
and kidneys. The next morning they took me down and brought me a piece of 
bread and some water. Then they hung me upside down by the feet all day." 

1 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 137-138. 

page 158 

(A few days later Soviet officers told Torialal that he had been sentenced to 
death, but he claimed that resistance agents inside Pul-i Charkhi smuggled him 
out.) 2 

6 A. 3 Testimony of Razia, a student at Kabul University when she was arrested and 
taken to Sedarat in 1981, where she stayed for a year (interviewed in Peshawar, 
September 23, 1984): 3 

(a) "I saw many people tortured, and I was tortured myself. Electricity, 
standing in cold water, keeping you from sleeping, beating, these are very 
normal things. They made a man stand on a board with nails coming out and 
beat him with chains or cables. They hung a man by the legs from the ceiling. 
All the men were tortured. 

(b) "For women, they would keep them from sleeping, or they would 
make them stand in cold water, then add a chemical, and after a half hour the 
skin would start to come off their feet. They made them stand barefoot in 
snow, gave them electric shocks, pulled out their hair, beat them with electric 
shock batons. 

(c) "For both women and men they have something like earphones. They 
attach wires to it and put it on your head and give you a shock, a harder one 
for the men. They attach wires to the hands and feet. 

(d) "There were men supervising the torture of the women. Sometimes 
they tortured them separately, sometimes together in the same room. This was 
a form of mental torture. For instance, they took one girl to a room, and the 
men from KhAD were all around her. They brought a man, a mujahid. Then 
KhAD men molested this girl, they fondled her all over the body. Then they 
beat the man in front of the girl. They beat that man to death, and then they left 
the girl alone with the dead body. This girl, Jamila, was in prison with me. She 
became deranged. For a whole week she could not move. 4 

(e) "When they took me, they gave me a paper, and said, 'Write your 
complete biography.' Then they asked, 'Did you write all your antigovernment 
activity?' They took out a pistol and said, 'If you don't want to tell us, we will 
kill you.' They left me alone in a room for three or four hours. They came and 

2 Said Noor Ahmad Hashimi, a resistance leader from Badakhshan Province, told the Chicago Sun- 
Times (September 23, 1984) a similar story. He was tortured in the regional KhAD center in 
Badakhshan, then taken to Pul-i- Charkhi Prison, where he was "confined in a cell barely 4 feet high by 
4 feet long ... a special cell, for those they would like to see suffer most." The reporter observed that 
thirty-two-year-old Hashimi stoops like an old man: "His memories are of beatings and electric shock 
tortures at the hands of Soviet KGB agents and the Afghanistan State Information Police, KhAD." A 
former official of Pul-i Charkhi Prison described a "special block of cells for dangerous prisoners. In 
these cells there is no room to stand up." Interview in Peshawar, August 25, 1985. 

3 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 139-140. 

4 This was consistent with a pattern reported by Amnesty International: "Women prisoners reported 
being directly subjected to physical torture. . . . But there are also consistent accounts from women of 
being forced to witness the torture of male prisoners and, in three separate cases, of being incarcerated 
in the presence of a dead body." (Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Torture of Political Prisoners 


saw I hadn't written anything, and they said, 'Now we will torture you, but 
electric shocks are not good for you, nice girl.' They asked me questions for 
eight hours, 10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M., and then they started the shocks. 

(f) "There was something like a ruler — they hit me on the knuckle, and I 
jumped back with the shock. They made me stand in cold water. They put 
some chemicals in the water and after thirty to forty-five minutes the skin was 
coming off. They showed me a picture of myself in the demonstration. They 
tried to get something from me, but they couldn't. They tortured me for two 
months, with no sleep, and also with mental torture. They told me, 'We will 
bring your sister here and beat her and rape her.' 

(g) "The first day my interrogators were three women, Nazifa, Zarghuna, 
and Nahib. Malia was the woman in charge of the women's jail, but they were 
all controlled by men. Then there were two men, Amin and Taher. The 
Russian advisers were also coming and telling us that Russia is a very good 
place, and that they were helping us. Sometimes the advisers were with 
uniform, sometimes without. The adviser organizes the interrogation. When 
they finish asking the questions, they go tell the adviser the answers. Then 
they come back and ask new questions. We heard from the men that the 
advisers sometimes give the torture for men, but we didn't see it." 

6A.4 Testimony of Qadratullah, thirty-nine, a farmer from Qala-i Murad Beg, north 
of Kabul, who was arrested in the summer of 1983 (interviewed in Peshawar, 
September 30, 1984): 5 

(a) "In Sedarat they put me in a small room, I was alone there from 9:30 in 
the morning to 9:00 at night. Then two Russians and an interpreter came, and I 
was under investigation. The Russian told me, 'You are an ashrar [bandit].' 
They accused me of burning the school in my village. They were beating me 
and hitting me against the wall. They had a table. They put my fingertips 
under the legs of the table and hit the table. Then they repeated this after ten 
minutes. My nails were bleeding, and some of them were broken. [They asked 
a series of questions about his participation in the resistance.] Then they told 
me to stand. When I stood they told me to sit. Then they told me again to 
stand, and they were beating me on the shins while I did this. Then they left 
me alone till 9:00 the next night. 

(b) "For five nights they repeated the same questions. The Parchami told 
me, 'Your people have already confessed, and we have ways and means of 
making you confess.' I said I didn't know anything. Then the Parchami hit me 
in the stomach, and I had to lean against the wall. The Russian said to bring 
the wire, and the Russian connected the wires to my toes. They gave me a 
shock, and I fell unconscious. 

(c) "After an hour I woke up, and they told me to confess, or they would 
connect the wire again. [They asked many more questions, but Qadratullah did 
not confess to anything.] There were two tables. They turned me upside down. 

5 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 140-141. 

page 160 

They put my head between the two tables and pushed them together. They 
leaned my feet against the wall and made me stretch out my arms on top of the 
tables, and the Parchami was beating my hands. They asked, 'Would you like 
to confess or not?' 

(d) "After half an hour my legs began to feel light, and my upper body felt 
heavy. My eyes and neck were swollen. My hands were trembling, and I lost 
control. I fell unconscious for a long time. When I woke up, at first I couldn't 
open my eyes. When I did, I saw a lot of blood on the floor. My mouth was so 
swollen I could not eat." 

6A.5 Ghulam, thirty-eight, a shopkeeper in Qandahar, arrested in September 1981 
(interviewed in Quetta, October 3, 1984), described a mechanism that appears to be 
the same as the one in Figure 6.1, a drawing by one of the torture victims treated by 
Dr. Dadfar: 

"First they took me to the headquarters of KhAD in Kandahar, which is in the 
house of Abdul Rahim Latif in Shahr-i Naw. For torture they took me to 
another house nearby, the house of Musa Khan. They told me to give the 
names of those I was helping. I refused and denied knowing anything about 
the documents. Then they started the electricity. They connected four wires to 
my toes, fingers, and tongue. The wires came out of a machine with a crank 
like an old-fashioned telephone. It was operated by hand. They turned the 
crank, and I fell unconscious from the shock. Then I was thrown in the water. 
Then they tied my hands behind me and tied my legs. I had to stand for seven 
days. I just had five minutes rest in the evening. KhAD people were torturing 
me, but every morning at ten o'clock many Russians would come and say, 
'Give me the names of people, and I will set you free.' The Russians were 
instructing KhAD people what to do. Every morning KhAD people reported to 
the Russians to find out what to do. We heard them talking on the telephone; it 
was a small place. Then I was locked in a room alone for forty days and 
interrogated just once or twice. Then they let me go." 6 

6A.6 Testimony of K., a student in the eleventh grade when he was arrested in 1980 
(interviewed in Peshawar, September 24, 1984; name withheld on request): 7 

(a) "I was first taken to KhAD office in Wazir Akbar Khan. At first they 
gagged me and hung me on a wall with both arms out and my legs tied, and 
they lashed me with a cable from 8:30 to 12:30 at night. The question was, 
'Tell to what organization you belong, and how many people you have killed.' 
I stayed in Wazir Akbar Khan four nights. But in the day they also tortured. 
They took a bandolier, a belt for holding bullets, and someone came and 
strangled me with that. They tried to hang me, and without asking me any 

(b) "I was not given electric shocks, but I saw another boy. They tied some 
wires to his body, and I saw him jumping up and falling down. 

6 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 142. 

7 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 142-143. 


(c) "I was taken in the daytime to Sedarat in the minibus with about 
twenty-five other young people. They took us into a yard and told us, 'You 
will be talked to later. These are the last minutes of your lives.' The next day 
they took papers and questionnaires and started the interrogation. I stayed in 
Sedarat for twenty-five days. Each day they interrogated me. They put my 
hand under a chair's leg and sat on the chair. They were beating me with 
Kalashnikovs and sticks. They told me, 'This is your last day.' Russians were 
coming in the room with their weapons and saying, 'You are basmachi' 
[bandits, a term originally used by the Soviets in referring to Central Asians 
who resisted their rule in the 1920s]. The most horrible thing of all was being 
strangled. I lost consciousness, and my face was all swollen. Then I went to 
Pul-i Charkhi." 

6 A. 7 Former science teacher Fahima Naseri described how women were being 
tortured both in 1981, during her first arrest, and in 1984, when she was arrested 
again. Much of her testimony confirms the reports of other Afghan women torture 
victims such as Razia (see above), whom Human Rights Watch interviewed in 1984, 
and Farida Ahmadi, who testified in 1982 at the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal in Paris 
and again in the 1983 Norwegian Afghanistan hearings in Oslo. 8 Fahima Naseri 
recalled seeing Farida Ahmadi in the Sedarat interrogation center. The following is a 
summary of testimony of Fahima Naseri, former science teacher, arrested in April 
1981 (interviewed in Peshawar, August 27, 1985): 9 

(a) "Arrested on 23 April 1981 for her work in organizing demonstrations 
against the S 

page 162 

asked where, and they said, "Here, with the other bitches.'" Two of the 
prisoners turned out to be undercover KhAD agents. Fahima was preoccupied 
with worry about her parents, her husband, and her two children. 

(c) '"The third night they came and took me. They kept asking questions, 
but this time they brought an instrument with wires. There was a sort of collar 
of iron they put around my neck. They took off my shoes and made me put my 
feet on the floor. They brought my notebook with names in it and asked, 
"What is your organization, what is your connection with bandits, who are 
these names in the book?" I said they were my friends, it doesn't mean 
anything. They gave me an electric shock, and I jumped up. They repeated it 
the same way. On the third day of electric shock torture, I realized that if I 
raised my feet, the current was less. So when I saw they were about to push 
the button, I raised my feet. The wires were attached to my hands, and there 
was a button on the machine. Each time the electricity passed through me, I 
fell flat, like a corpse. My heart palpitated, and I was nearly numb. The fourth 
night they tried several times more, and then they stopped. 

(d) '"Then they took me to a dark room with tables, not so big a room, and 
a woman and a man were there. They again started to pose questions and pull 
my hair. I had already lost three fingers of hair. [She pulled back her hair to 
show how it had receded by the width of three fingers.] They made me stand 
and slapped me. This was the worst, because it did not hurt very much, but it 
was very insulting. They made me stand on one leg, and when one foot fell 
down, they would beat me. 

(e) '"When they finished making me stand on one foot, they took me into 
another room, where there was some bluish water. They told me to stand in it. 
And my feet felt like there were needles in them, like ants eating them. It felt 
like needles, and my feet started to swell as if they would burst. Since then I 
have pain and a swelling in the toe from that, and an infection. [She showed a 
swelling on her foot.] 

(f) '"After I think the thirteenth night they took me to another room [she 
began to weep], that smelled, it was very dark. In this room it stank. I saw a 
corpse, and there were cut fingers, cutoff limbs, blood.' [Overcome at this 
point, she had to leave the room.] 10 

(g) "After this she was left alone, except for psychological torture 
consisting of false news about misfortunes befalling her family. Four months 
later she was sentenced to one year of imprisonment and one and a half years 
of parole." 

6A.8 Fahima noticed in the prison: 

"One of the things that struck me the most was that when pregnant women 
were taken to the hospital [from prison] to give birth, they were brought back 
with their children, but as soon as they came back, they started interrogating 

10 Farida Ahmadi was apparently taken to the same room: "The first thing they showed me in KhAD 
were corpses and pieces of corpses." (Blanchet 41.) 


them again. As a result of tortures, they had problems and couldn't nurse their 

6 A. 9 Human Rights Watch also received descriptions of torture from people who 
were not torture victims themselves. Testimony of a former KhAD agent, describing 
practices in the Sheshdarak KhAD office; interviewed in Peshawar, September 30, 
1984: 11 

"They hang the prisoner by one hand and one foot on the wall, and then they 
connect the wire to the toes or testicles. The wire comes out of a machine that 
plugs into an outlet. There is a switch, and a meter that shows the amount of 
current. There is a terminal with wires that have rings on the end to connect it 
to the body. You can control the amount of current. It looks like a telephone 
box. They put cotton in the prisoner's mouth, and start to turn the crank. When 
he nods his head, it means he will confess." 

6A.10 In an August 1985 interview in Peshawar, a defector from the Interior 
Ministry who had worked in military radio communications as well as in Pul-i 
Charkhi Prison in Kabul described what was considered standard procedure after a 
village was destroyed by planes and troops: 12 

(a) "Then the ambulance helicopter comes. They try to surround the 
village and capture anyone and put them in the ambulance helicopter — 
women, children, old men, they put them in the helicopter and send them to 
Kabul, to Pul-i Charkhi Prison, to the central zone [zon-i markazi]. Farmers, 
old people, and so on go first to Pul-i Charkhi. To [the central KhAD 
interrogation office in] Sedarat they bring the political prisoners. 

(b) "In the central zone of Pul-i Charkhi Prison there are some Afghan 
police and also Soviets who speak Pashto, Hazaragi, Persian. These are KGB 
officers trained in Afghan languages in Russia. They interrogate the people 
and give them electric shocks with a machine. They use electric chairs and ask 
them, 'Where are the ashrar?' Among those people some may be physically or 
mentally weak, so they tell about the mujahidin bases. Some who can control 
themselves don't say anything until they die. In this way they find the people 
who are helping the mujahidin, and they clear those with no links to the 
mujahidin. For this reason they also call it the 'clearance zone' [zon-i taswifi]. 
It belongs to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. 

(c) "When they find that some of them are linked to the mujahidin, they 
transfer them to KhAD, and KhAD has other branches and other methods of 

(d) "I was working in Pul-i Charkhi as a member of the administration, 
and I was also imprisoned in Pul-i Charkhi, and I had colleagues who were 
working there. I have seen the evidence with my own eyes, and some of my 
Muslim colleagues also told me about it. I saw with my own eyes that to this 

11 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 144. 

12 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 46-47. 

page 164 

central zone they are not bringing the ordinary criminals from the cities. They 
brought people from the districts and subdistricts when the troops undertook 
operations. I myself visited the 'clearance zone' in the center of Pul-i 


Appendix 6.B. Testimonies on Executions 

6B. 1 Testimony of Nadir Khan, son of Muhammad Anwar Khan, twenty-two, 
resistance fighter of Hizb-i Island (Khalis's group), of Tangi Gharo, Deh Sabz 
District, Kabul Province; interviewed in Peshawar, August 21, 1985: 1 

(a) "There were many people executed in Pul-i Charkhi: a commander of a 
group of mujahidin from Hodkhel [northeast of Kabul near Pul-i Charkhi] 
named Azim Jan; Jalil from Ghazni Province, who was chief of finances of the 
mujahid front of NIFA [National Islamic Front of Afghanistan]. They were 
executing people sometimes every day, sometimes every other day, sometimes 
every third day, thirty or forty people. When they were taken to execution, 
they were first taken to the first floor of block one. Their faces were covered, 
and their hands were chained. Then they were put in a special truck and 
carried to the executions. We watched from the windows. Some were crying 
'Allahu Akbar' [God is great], but some were gagged. 

(b) "From the beginning of this year, from Hamal [in late March, the 
Afghan new year] after sunset two vehicles without doors and windows would 
come to pick up prisoners sometimes every day, sometimes every two days, 
and they took the prisoners and carried them to Polygon Field, code no. 15. 
[This is the military code for the brigade stationed at Polygon Field behind the 
military academy near Pul-i Charkhi.] First they had doctors take out all their 
blood, because they need a lot in the hospital, and then they were shot. Then 
tractors and bulldozers came and covered them with mud. 

(c) "When the prisoners were taken to be executed, they would cover their 
eyes, gag them, chain their hands, and put them in the vehicle and transfer 
them to Polygon no. 15. The prison was four stories high, and the prisoners 
upstairs could see where they were going. At the beginning a soldier would 
stand there to keep the prisoners from seeing them execute people, but 
sometimes the prisoners could see them in the distance. When they were 
transferred, on that night the prisoners in each block would pray for the dead 
and recite verses of the Holy Koran. We knew about the blood because some 
of the soldiers were also Muslims. We got the information from different 
sources, from the soldiers and from some other people, workers in the prison, 
or lower ranking army officers." 2 

6B.2 Testimony of Zmarai Shikari, son of Mian Gul Shikari, twenty-one, resistance 
fighter of Hizb-i Island (Khalis's group), of Gazak village, Bagram District, Kabul 
Province; interviewed in Peshawar, August 21, 1985): 

1 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 69. 

2 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 69-70. Asadullah, a former student of the 
Polytechnic Institute who was released from Pul-i Charkhi in July 1985, told the Afghan Information 
and Documentation Centre in Peshawar that he could confirm that condemned prisoners are drained of 
blood before execution. He claimed that the blood was used for "wounded Communist soldiers." See 
Afghan Realities . November 1-15, 1985: 1. 

page 166 

"They took twenty, twenty-five, up to thirty people at a time for execution, 
sometimes every day, sometimes every other day and always after two days, at 
least three times a week. There were seventy people with me in a cell in block 
one of Pul-i Charkhi in Ramazan 1362 [around July 1983], and afterward I 
only found twenty, and the rest were executed." 3 

6B.3 Testimony of Din Mohammad, son of Gul Mohammad, of Charbagh District, 
Laghman Province, who was released from prison in Jalalabad in May 1985; 
interviewed in Panyian refugee camp, Haripur, NWFP, August 23, 1985: 

"Every day they were taking about eight prisoners and killing them in Miali 
Samarkhel [a military post east of Jalalabad]. All the Khalqis and Parchamis 
were very, very cruel. Some of them were killing the people, they were saying, 
'I know this prisoner, he killed my brother, he shot at me.' They killed them 
without proof, without judgment." 4 

3 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 70. 

4 Asia Watch and Helsinki Watch, To Die in Afghanistan 70. 



(April 27, 1978-April 15, 1992 / Sawr 7, 1357-Hamal 26, 1371): 

7. 1 During the fourteen-year period covered by this chapter, the armed opposition 
to the regimes of Taraki, Amin, Karmal, and Najibullah and to the Soviet occupation 
took many forms. It included relatively spontaneous manifestations of local revolt, 
political-military party organizations (tanzims) based in Pakistan or Iran, mobile 
armed groups that launched missile and rocket attacks against a variety of targets, and, 
especially after the Soviet withdrawal, organizations that exercised control over 
territory and populations in some areas of the country. 1 

7.2 The vast majority of the fighters were Afghans, but some Pakistani Pashtuns, 
especially from the tribal areas, participated in the fighting as well. 2 Starting in the 
late 1980s, a small but growing number of Arabs and men from elsewhere in the 
Islamic world also participated. Many came on short "jihad tours" like summer 
internships, but others, including some fugitives from justice, such as Egyptians 
involved with the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat, stayed for years. Some of the 
longer-term, more committed Arab fighters formed the al-Qaida organization at a 
meeting in Khost in 1988. 3 

7.3 According to reports, these organizations received assistance from foreign 
governments and other non- Afghans. The Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence 
of Pakistan (ISI) was reported to be the major foreign operational organization on the 
ground with the Afghan resistance, with its officers sometimes accompanying 
commanders on missions. It was reported to be primarily responsible for delivering 
the weapons paid for by the US and Saudi Arabia and transported to Pakistan by the 
CIA. 4 

7.4 According to various sources, initially, the main role of the US, together with 
the Saudi government, represented by its intelligence agency, the Istakhbara al-'Ama, 
was reportedly to fund the weapons supply and other assistance programs to the 
mujahidin parties. US, Saudi, Pakistani, and, until the Soviet withdrawal, Chinese 

1 Olivier Roy, L'afghanistan: Islam et modernite politique (Paris: Seuil, 1985); Barnett R. Rubin, The 
Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the International System (New Haven: 
Yale University Press, 2002, first edition 1995) 1 12-115; Gilles Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane 
(Paris: Karthala, 2000); and William Maley, The Afghanistan Wars (London: Palgrave Macmillan) 25- 

2 Large-scale participation by Pakistani madrasa students (taliban), including members of non-Pashtun 
Pakistani ethnic groups, did not start until the Taliban period. See Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant 
Islam. Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000). 

3 Olivier Roy, L'echec de V islam politique (Paris: Seuil, 1992); Rubin, Fragmentation : Barnett R. 
Rubin, "Arab Islamists in Afghanistan" in John L. Esposito (ed.), Political Islam: Revolution. 
Radicalism, or Reform (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1997): 179-206; Gilles Kepel, Jihad- 
expansion et declin de 1'islamisme (Paris: Gallimard, 2000); Rohan Guneratne, Inside al-Qaida. Global 
Network of Terror (New York: Berkley Books, 2003). 

4 Rubin, Fragmentation 1 96-20 1 ; Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA. Afghanistan, 
and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10. 2001 (New York: Penguin Press, 2004) 64- 
65, 67. 

page 168 

intelligence representatives allegedly met regularly in Islamabad to discuss strategy 
and operational problems. China's role was reported to be as the main supplier (for 
cash) of Soviet-style weapons, such as the AK-47 (Kalashnikov) automatic rifle, 
which China also manufactured, and the type 72 anti-personnel mine. 5 

7.5 In March 1985 the US government adopted National Security Decision 
Directive (NSDD) 166, which enunciated a goal of military victory for the program of 
aiding the mujahidin. Aid was reported to have increased in quantity and quality, 
including the provision of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, from September 1986. 6 In 
addition, a number of major commanders, including Ahmad Shah Massoud, Abdul 
Haq, Jalaluddin Haqqani, and Amin Wardak, allegedly began to receive aid directly 
from the CIA through what were called "unilateral" channels. 7 The CIA also was 
reported to have exercised a greater degree of control over the distribution of Stingers, 
US-manufactured, shoulder-mounted, laser-guided anti-aircraft missiles that it 
reportedly began to supply in the fall of 1986. 8 

7.6 According to some reports, after 1985 the CIA and ISI placed greater pressure 
on the mujahidin to attack regime strongholds, often using means that were 
indiscriminate. In this regard, there are published reports of techniques in which the 
CIA allegedly trained the Afghans. 9 The resistance, especially the more radical 
Islamist elements, also reportedly received aid from private and semi-private 
organizations in the Muslim world. The officially supported Saudi-based Muslim 
World League (Rabitat al-'Alam al-Islami) and a support committee headed by Prince 
Salman Ibn 'Abdul 'Aziz, governor of Riyadh, allegedly collected funds for madrasas, 
the Saudi Red Crescent, and Arab mujahidin who fought alongside the Afghans. The 
recruitment of Arab fighters was reportedly done in a joint venture with the Muslim 
Brotherhood, which staffed the recruitment offices and supplied most of the fighters 
and other staff on the ground. 10 In addition to its legitimate relief activities, the Saudi 
Red Crescent also allegedly paid for the transportation of weapons from Pakistan into 
Afghanistan, paying the full cost plus contingencies (5 percent) for Islamist parties 
and a small portion of the costs for nationalist or traditionalist parties. 11 Private 
donors such as Usama bin Laden also reportedly contributed in various ways. 

7.7 The Geneva Accords on Afghanistan, signed on April 14, 1988, (described in 
more detail in Chapter Four) appeared to require a cessation of external assistance by 
Pakistan and the US to armed groups in Afghanistan. However, as previously 
described, from the Soviet withdrawal to the breakup of the USSR, "positive 

5 Rubin, Fragmentation 197; Coll, Ghost Wars 66. 

6 Rubin. Fragmentation 181: Coll. Ghost Wars 125-128. 

7 Coll. Ghost Wars 128. 

8 Rubin, Fragmentation 182. 

9 Coll, Ghost Wars 90, 103-106. 

10 Mohammad Yousaf and Mark Adkin, Afghanistan The Bear Trap: The Defeat of a Superpower 
(Havertown: Casemate, 2001; first edition 1992); Roy. L'echec de l'islam politique : Rubin, 
Fragmentation 197; Rubin, "Arab Islamists in Afghanistan." 

11 Rubin, Fragmentation 197. 


symmetry" — aid to both the mujahidin and the Kabul government — continued despite 
the Geneva Accords. 12 

7.8 After the Soviet withdrawal, the US on the one hand, and Pakistan and Saudi 
Arabia on the other, reportedly developed differences over what direction to take. In 
1989, after the failure of the offensive at Jalalabad and the killing of a number of 
Massoud's commanders by Gulbuddin Hikmatyar's fighters, the US allegedly ordered 
that none of its aid go to the latter, though the fungibility of Saudi aid and a rising 
level of private contributions from the Persian Gulf meant that this decision made 
little difference. In addition, there was allegedly considerable evidence of CIA 
resistance to the State Department's attempt to promote a political settlement and to 
rein in Hikmatyar, whom the CIA considered to be militarily effective. Both the ISI 
and CIA became more operationally involved, with the ISI in particular overseeing 
the battle of Jalalabad and the rocketing of Kabul city. 13 

7.9 The Shi 'a parties supported by Iran reportedly tended to stay somewhat apart 
from the main battles, in part because of the location of Afghanistan's Hazara 
population centers. 14 At least one Shi 'a party, Harakat-i Island, allegedly participated 
in rocketing Kabul city, notably by firing a rocket at the Polytechnic Institute during a 
Loya Jirga convened there by Najibullah in 1987. 15 According to reports from early 
in the war, various parts of the Iranian government, notably the intelligence service, 
the Revolutionary Guards, and the Office of the Islamic Revolution, became closely 
involved with Shi'a parties. Most of their efforts seemed to be directed at bringing 
the Afghan Shi'a under the dominance of parties that supported the line of 
Khomeini. 16 

7.10 In addition to their operations in Afghanistan, the Sunni Afghan parties 
reportedly participated as junior partners of the ISI and other parts of the government 
of Pakistan (including the governments of the Northwest Frontier Province and 
Baluchistan) in the governance and control of the Afghan refugee populations in 
Pakistan. They allegedly ran prisons, mainly for captured fighters, but also for other 
Afghans, and some had intelligence services. The parties were reported to have 
enjoyed virtual impunity to carry out repressive activities among the Afghan 
refugees. 17 The Shi'a parties had no such comparable role in Iran, according to these 

12 Bamett R. Rubin, The Search for Peace in Afghanistan: From Buffer State to Failed State (New 
Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995). 

13 Coll, Ghost Wars 190-195. According to Coll, the Jalalabad offensive was the brainchild of General 
Hamid Gul, director of the ISI, and was jointly planned with the US at a meeting on March 6, 1989, at 
which no Afghans were present (p. 192). See also Rubin Fragmentation 250-251; and Rubin, The 
Search for Peace . Evidence on ISI and CIA sponsorship of these activities is presented below. 

14 Roy, Islam et modernite politique : Rubin, Fragmentation . 

15 Rubin, Fragmentation . The commander who fired this rocket was Sayyid Hussain Anwari, today the 
Minister of Agriculture of Afghanistan. 

16 Roy, Islam et modernite politique . 

17 Rubin, Fragmentation ; Asia Watch, Afghanistan: The Forgotten War — Human Rights Abuses and 
Violations of the Laws of War Since the Soviet Withdrawal (New York: 1991) 101. 

page 170 

7. 1 1 The mujahidin formed various alliances, coalitions, and interim governments 
during this period, but they never combined their military committees. Hence, none 
of these alliances ever assumed operational control of the war, which remained 
divided among commanders, party leaders, and the ISI, with occasional participation 
in more important decisions by the CIA and Istakhbara. 18 

7.12 Before 1980, as various leaders made their way to Pakistan, organizations 
remained fluid, except for Jamiat and Hizb, which had had bases and organizations in 
Pakistan since 1973 (Daud's coup). The parties headed by Sebghatullah Mojaddedi 
(Jabha-yi Nijat-i Milli, National Salvation Front), Muhammad Nabi Muhammadi 
(Harakat-i Inqilab-i Island, Movement of the Islamic Revolution), and Abdul Rabb 
al-Rasul Sayyaf (Ittihad-i Island bara-yi Azadi, the Islamic Union for Liberation) all 
originated as alliances of other parties founded during that period. 19 

7.13 In 1980, the ISI, working with the Pakistani Islamist party Jama'at-i Island, 
officially recognized seven Sunni parties as its counterparts. The three traditionalist- 
nationalist parties headed by Sayyid Ahmad Gailani (Mahaz-i Milli-yi Island, 
National Islamic Front), Mojaddedi, and Muhammadi formed the "moderate" alliance 
(ittihad-i seh, or union of three), while the four Islamist parties led by Hikmatyar, 
Rabbani, Khalis, and Sayyaf, together with three tiny factions, formed the "Islamist" 
alliance (ittihad-i haft, alliance of seven). 20 

7.14 In 1985, as part of the change in policy resulting from NSDD 166, the US, 
Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia sought greater international political recognition for the 
mujahidin and hence induced the seven major Sunni parties to form the Islamic 
Coalition of the Mujahidin of Afghanistan (Ittilaf-i Islami-yi Mujahidin-i 
Afghanistan). 21 The alliance had a rotating presidency and began to send 
representatives to the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly. In response to 
this union of seven Sunni parties sponsored by the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, 
Iran united eight Shi 'a parties into Hizb-i Wahdat (Unity Party) in a move of literal 
one-upmanship. 22 

7.15 As the Soviet withdrawal got underway, in June 1988 the seven party leaders 
chose an "interim government" headed by "Prime Minister" Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, 
a close associate of Sayyaf. 23 As this "government" failed to garner significant 
support after the Soviet withdrawal, the ISI, CIA, and Istakhbara had the seven parties 
hold a shura in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, chaired by Sayyaf. This group chose the 
Interim Islamic Government of Afghanistan (Hukumat-i Muwaqqat-i Islami-yi 
Afghanistan). Sebghatullah Mojaddedi was chosen as president and Sayyaf as prime 
minister. 24 

18 Roy, Islam et modernite politique : Rubin, Fragmentation 255-264. 

19 Roy, Islam et modernite politique . 

20 Roy, Islam et modernite politique , and Rubin, Fragmentation 198-199. 

21 Pakistan's military president, Zia-ul-Haq, informed the mujahidin leaders of the formation of this 
alliance at a dinner in Islamabad (Rubin, Search for Peace ). 

22 Rubin, Search for Peace . 

23 Rubin, Search for Peace . 

24 Rubin, Search for Peace . 


7.16 In an effort to provide this Interim Government with a territorial base in 
Afghanistan where it could receive diplomatic recognition, according to some reports, 
agencies of the US, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia organized an offensive against 
Jalalabad in March 1989 in which thousands of people were killed, including many 
civilians and prisoners who were taken. 25 The Arab fighters from the newly founded 
al-Qaida organization reportedly for the first time played a significant role in this 
battle. 26 The assault on Jalalabad, however, failed to achieve its objective. 

7.17 In response to this failure, in 1990 the US State Department supported the 
formation of a Commanders' Council in which Massoud, Abdul Haq, and other 
unilaterally supplied commanders played the major roles. Hikmatyar commanders 
were excluded, and Sayyaf boycotted it. The CIA, however, resisted these efforts and 
continued to consider Hikmatyar's military efforts as the most effective means to 
overthrow Najibullah. 27 

7.18 The formal aid effort came to an end in September 1991, after the failed coup 
attempt against Gorbachev that signaled the breakup of the USSR. The US and USSR 
agreed to end aid to both sides. The disengagement of the US and the dissolution of 
the USSR led to the fall of Najibullah in April 1992 and a reconfiguration of the 
armed groups in Afghanistan, leading to the new patterns of human rights violations 
described in subsequent chapters. 28 

A. Legal Frameworks 

7. 19 During most of the period under consideration, the armed opposition groups 
did not control territory or population. A few commanders did so even before the 
Soviet withdrawal (Massoud, Ismail Khan, and Amin Wardak, for instance). After 
the withdrawal, these commanders expanded the areas under their control, and 
Massoud even gained control of Taluqan, the provincial center of Takhar, from which 
he administered areas in several provinces. Other commanders were also able to 
consolidate a greater degree of control. In the tribal areas of the south, as the areas 
under government control shrank, civil administration, to the extent that it existed, 
tended to be overseen by the tribal elders rather than commanders, though the ulama 
among the mujahidin established a system of shari'a courts that functioned in 
resistance-held areas. 29 

7.20 For most of this period, therefore, the applicable standard consisted at least of 
common article three of the Geneva Conventions, forbidding the torture or killing of 
prisoners. In addition, we consider violations of other portions of the Geneva 

25 0n the planning of the battle, see Coll, Ghost Wars 192. Mujahidin inside Afghanistan told an Asia 
Watch researcher that Pakistani officers were coming and pressuring them to attack Jalalabad instead of 
negotiating an Afghan solution with the garrison, which the mujahidin said they preferred. See Asia 
Watch, "Policies of the Pakistani Military Toward the Afghan Resistance: Human Rights 
Implications," News from Asia Watch . February 27, 1989. 

26 Coll, Ghost Wars ; Guneratne. 

27 Coll, Ghost Wars 209-213. 

28 Rubin, Search for Peace ; Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane . 

29 Rubin, Fragmentation 255-264; Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane . 

page 172 

Conventions, especially those dealing with attacks on and killing of the civilian 

7.21 In order to better understand some of the actions of mujahidin groups, it is 
helpful also to understand the legal standards that at least some of them considered to 
be applicable to the conflict. In the 1980s, the ICRC obtained a copy of a manual of 
jurisprudence for jihad prepared by members of the Joint Court of Refugees and 
Mujahidin of the Southwestern Region of Afghanistan, which sat in Baluchistan. 30 
This manual reflects the thinking of conservative, rural-based ulama. The author 
describes himself as a "follower of the Hanafi school and Naqshbandi [Sufi] order," 
the classic combination for traditional Afghan ulama. The book does not represent 
the more extreme Islamist views of some, as, for instance, it takes the position that it 
is permissible to accept assistance from infidels in waging jihad, a position that 
Hikmatyar and Sayyaf opposed. Nor does it claim that Muslims are obliged to 
emigrate from former Muslim territory conquered by infidels, as some claimed, or 
that those who failed to do so had therefore renounced their religion. It should not be 
assumed that all ulama or commanders agreed with this manual or that, even if they 
did agree with it, they applied it consistently. Nonetheless, the manual presents a 
conceptual framework that was widespread among the mujahidin and corresponds to 
their behavior in many cases. 

7.22 The author states that "if a great number of infidels attack the soil belonging to 
Muslims," all Muslims are personally obligated to participate in jihad (including both 
military and non-military activities). Even minor boys may join the fight without the 
permission of their parents if a "large army of infidels . . . attack[s] a country with 
many troops and all kinds of equipment." 31 

7.23 The author distinguishes three categories of men against whom the mujahidin 
were fighting: atheists, apostates, and Muslims who are helping the infidels. The 
book treats women and children basically as the property of families headed by men 
belonging to these categories rather than as bearers of individual rights. Different 
regulations apply to each category concerning whether mujahidin can kill them, 
ransom them, ransom their wives, enslave their wives and children, or loot their 
property. In the Afghan context, the three categories refer to Soviet soldiers 
(atheists), Afghan communists (apostates), and conscripts or members of tribal militia 
of the regime (Muslims helping the infidels). "Infidels" includes both atheists and 
apostates, as well as People of the Book (Jews and Christians), although the author 
does not refer to any role of the latter in the war. 

7.24 The author defines an atheist as "a person who rejects God or denies God's 
existence," but he also notes that some define an atheist as a person who "thinks that 
all property and means of production should be shared by all people," an obvious 
reference to communists. An apostate is a Muslim (by birth to a Muslim father or by 

30 Haji Maulana Akhtar Muhammad al-Qandahari, Sarf al-ijtihad fi Ahkam al- Jihad ( Summary of 
Jurisprudence Concerning the Provisions of Jihad ) (Quetta: Joint Court of Refugees and Mujahidin of 
Southwest Region, 1363 [1984]), translated and abridged by Mohammad Asef Ikram, International 
Committee of the Red Cross: Peshawar, 1987. The original is written in a combination of Pashto, 
Persian, and Arabic, the latter mainly consisting of quotations from various books of fiqh. This report 
draws on the ICRC translation, slightly emended in places for clarity. 

Al-Qandahari 4-5. 


conversion to Islam) who turns away from Islam; he may be an atheist or an adherent 
of Christianity or Judaism (religions of the People of the Book [ahl al-kitab]), or an 
idolator (Hindu). 

7.25 The book also uses an important distinction in Islamic law, that between 
Muslim territory (dar al-islam) and the territory of war (dar al-harb). Dar al-islam is 
territory ruled by Muslims where the laws of Islam are respected. Dar al-harb is 
territory ruled by non-Muslims or where the laws of Islam are not respected. 
Different rules apply in these two areas, with special measures for land that was 
formerly dar al-islam that has become dar al-harb. The book also considers under 
what conditions the latter change can be said to have taken place, as the official rulers 
of Afghanistan at that time were nominal Muslims despite their political affiliations 
and the presence of Soviet troops. 

7.26 The following are some of the principal findings related to the protection and 
violation of humanitarian law and human rights as defined in international law. In 
reading these, one should keep in mind that Islamic jurisprudence ( fiqh ) divides 
actions into five categories: obligatory, recommended, permitted, not recommended, 
and prohibited. The precise language is thus important as in other legal texts: 

(a) "The religious instructions about Jihad concluded that Jihad and 
struggle is to be carried on against infidels [as an obligation] whether they 
have attacked the Muslims or otherwise." The nature of the obligation differs 
by circumstance. If the infidels attack the Muslims with large forces, it is the 
individual obligation (fard al-'ain) of every Muslim to participate in jihad; 
otherwise it is the collective obligation (fard al-kifai) of the Islamic 
community or state. This is the standard Hanafi teaching on the obligation of 
jihad. 32 

(b) "When Muslims face the infidels on the battlefield, they must invite 
them to Islam once. [But if the invitation might be dangerous for Muslims or if 
the Muslims know it is useless, they must avoid it.] If they accept Islam, the 
aim is achieved. But if they refuse to convert to Islam, they must be asked to 
pay poll-tax ['jizya,' a tax imposed on non-Muslims living under Muslim 
rule]. The condition of paying poll-tax is not applied to those apostates who 
converted to other religions. The apostates and atheists have one of two 
alternatives: to convert back to Islam or be executed." 33 

(c) Mujahidin are allowed (not obligated) to continue to fight the enemy 
even at the risk of killing Muslim civilian hostages, and if they kill any by so 
doing, they need not pay blood money. 34 

32 Al-Qandahari 4, citing Radul Muhtar, Beirut, vol. 3 (Beirut) 219, as a source. Sources are 
reproduced as given in the ICRC translation. 

33 Al-Qandahari 5-6. This passage goes on to explain when different categories of enemies may be 
taken as slaves or live while paying the poll tax (jizya) and when it is and is not lawful to destroy their 

34 Al-Qandahari 6. 

page 174 

(d) When a large army of infidels attacks Muslims, and the Muslims 
cannot defend themselves, it is advisable (not obligatory) to go to other 
Muslims' land as refugees (muhajirin). 

(e) It is forbidden in war to kill women, immature boys, old men, 
paraplegics, blind people, idiots, hemiplegics, any person whose left hand and 
right leg or right hand and left leg are amputated, a person with an amputated 
right hand who is worshipping at a church or other place of worship 
(presumably of a non-Muslim religion), tourists, or a man who is isolated from 
the community for worship or who stays indoors (perhaps a reference to non- 
Muslim holy men such as monks and yogis). But all of these may be killed 
(permitted, not required) if they fight against Muslims or encourage others to 
do so, spy for the infidels, or advise the infidels. Those who may be executed 
during war may be executed for the same acts after the war, except for idiots 
and immature boys, even if the latter killed many Muslims. 35 

(f) Mujahidin are "strictly prohibited from breaking their promises, 
looting captured properties prior to fair distribution among fighters, and 
intentionally cutting parts of the human body in the war. It is not allowed to 
cut any part of the body of an enemy who has surrendered, i.e. ear, nose, lips, 
penis, or testicles. Mujahidin are prohibited from killing those old people 
whose mental ability has ceased, even if they still father children and call on 
others to go fighting. . . . The wise old people who do not incite others to fight 
against Muslims, and who are not able to fight, should not be killed." The 
above prohibitions against killing certain types of people are reiterated, but the 
author notes an exception to the prohibition of killing non-Muslims at 
worship: a ruler who is fighting against Muslims. 36 

(g) There is a difference of views regarding whether or not an atheist 
should be executed if he repents. The author cites various views on different 
situations, but his conclusion appears to be, "There is actually no repentance 
for an atheist because the atheist can never be trusted." 37 

(h) "An apostate may be [permitted, not required] executed only after the 
verdict of a council of religious scholars, or his repentance may be accepted by 
the same council, with unanimous vote in either case. This condition is not for 
an atheist. . . . The atheist and the sorcerer must be killed even if they repent. 
Their execution is not an obligation because of their apostasy, but they should 
be executed in order to prevent other people from being under their influence. 
For instance, rebels, spies, killers and seditious hypocrites should be executed 
even if they are apparently Muslims. 'Killer' means a person who has 
strangled many people. This person must be executed in order to stop the 
killing of other innocent people. Seditious hypocrites are those people who 

35 Al-Qandahari 8-9. References to Radul Muhtar and Badaie, vol. 7. 

36 Al-Qandahari 9-10, citing Radul Muhtar 225. The mutilations described are among the practices of 
Pashtun tribal warfare. 

37 Al-Qandahari 13-14, citing Majmu'at al-Resail 330, 333. 


are rebels and believe in looting the properties of Muslims, killing them and 
humiliating their women." 38 

(i) "When a Muslim assisting the infidels is killed at the side of the enemy 
in battle, his belongings must not be looted by mujahidin. The killing of such 
a Muslim is not punishable, but his property must be protected." 39 

(j) "An apostate should not be enslaved even in the territory of war [dar 
al-harb]. A judge may sentence an apostate to stay in the battlefield with the 
hope that he may convert back to Islam; otherwise he may be executed. 
When the wife of an apostate is captured in dar al-harb, according to the 
verdict of the judge, after the Muslims win the war, while she is still kept as a 
prisoner, she may be enslaved." 40 

(k) "There is no rule in shari'a allowing poll-tax for idolators and 
apostates. Whenever Muslims conquer these two types of people, their 
women and children are to be considered as booty. If the men refuse to 
convert to Islam, they may be killed. The women and children of the apostates 
captured in the battlefield must convert to Islam, but the women and children 
of the idolators may not be forced to convert to Islam." 41 

(1) "The owner of a female apostate slave is not allowed to have sexual 
intercourse with her. If an apostate woman is living in the territory of 
Muslims (dar al-islam) and later it changes to the region of war (dar al-harb), it 
is permitted to enslave her. The women of the apostates who convert from 
Islam are considered as booty. But they are not booty when they do not turn 
away from Islam." 42 

(m) A child of an apostate couple is considered an apostate. A child born 
of Muslims who later become apostates may not be treated as an apostate if 
the child is living in dar al-islam. In dar al-harb, however, the child may be 
enslaved and treated like the mother. 43 

(n) "When the infidels occupy the land of Muslims or if the Muslim rulers 
convert from Islam, and the law and constitution become un-Islamic, then the 
territory is declared to be a war region [dar al-harb]." 44 

38 Al-Qandahari 14, citing Majmu'at al-Resail 3 1 8, 327, and Radul Muhtar, vol. 1: 327, 584; and vol. 3: 

39 Al-Qandahari 16, citing Radul Muhtar, vol. 3: 239. 

40 Al-Qandahari 19, citing Badaie, vol. 7: 136. 

41 Al-Qandahari 19, citing Duri-Mukhtar 575; and Fath al-Qadir, vol. 5: 193. 

42 Al-Qandahari 20, citing Badaie, vol. 7: 135; Fath al-Qadir, vol. 5: 310; and Hindia, vol. 2: 224. 

43 Al-Qandahari 20, citing Badaie, vol. 7: 139; Fath al-Qadir and Radul Muhtar without page numbers. 

44 Al-Qandahari 22, citing Alamgiri 2: 232. The text adds some qualifications from other sources, but 
the implication that the areas controlled by the DRA and occupied by Soviets were dar al-harb is clear. 
It cites various opinions over the conditions under which dar al-islam becomes dar al-harb and vice 

page 176 

(o) "When two persons from two tribes [or ethnic groups, aqwam ] or sects 
fight against each other for tribal, racial or national fanaticism or any other 
cause rather than Islam, neither one of them is going to win. Both of them will 
go to hell." 45 

(p) In a separate section of responsa (answers to questions posed to the 
court), the text states: 

(i) "When the women of Khalqis [communists of any faction] who 
have converted from Islam are captured by mujahidin, they should not 
be returned to their families. 

(ii) "The religious marriages of Khalqis with their wives are null 
and void. 

(iii) "Whenever the women of Khalqi families are captured by 
mujahidin, and they send messages to release the women, or they will 
bombard the area, still the mujahidin should not release or return the 
women to the Khalqis. . . . 

(iv) "When the wife of a militia man is arrested by mujahidin, if the 
militia man has not been converted from Islam, the wife may be 
returned to her husband, but if the husband is a communist, the court 
may decide according to prevailing conditions. . . . 

(v) "People engaging in espionage will be executed if arrested, 
even if they are women or children. 

(vi) "Those women who do not wear the Islamic hijab are not to be 
respected and may be attacked by mujahidin." 46 The word "attacked" 
is not explained. 

7.27 In a number of cases described below, the actions of mujahidin conformed 
closely to the rules described above. 

B. Patterns of Human Rights Violations 

7.28 The types of violations carried out by various groups associated in one way or 
another with the Afghan resistance changed over time, as did the war. 

7.29 Initially, the mujahidin consisted of largely uncoordinated groups in different 
parts of the country, some of them linked more closely than others to the exiled 
leadership in Pakistan or Iran. During the uprisings against the PDPA regime in 
1978-79, local forces reportedly at times attacked civilian targets, such as schools and 
government buildings. According to reports cited below, they also sometimes killed 
Soviet advisers and their families (Afghanistan was not considered a high-risk posting 
until the Herat uprising) and officials of the government and police, including school 

Al-Qandahari 28, citing Alamgiri, vol. 6: 309. 
Al-Qandahari 32-33. 


teachers suspected of being communist, and they reportedly carried out many extra- 
judicial executions, including the killing of hostages. 47 

7.30 As documented in cases reported below, the treatment of prisoners by the 
fighters was dictated by a variety of factors, including local understanding of Islamic 
law such as that cited above, passions for revenge, tribal codes, and the political and 
military objectives of commanders. 

7.31 Reports of journalists as well as of former Soviet soldiers cited below attest 
that Soviet prisoners often met terrible fates at the hands of enraged villagers. The 
organized mujahidin parties soon realized that they could obtain political advantage 
by holding Soviet prisoners, thereby portraying themselves as a legitimate political 
force, or at least trading the prisoners for mujahidin held by the government. 48 To this 
end they initially agreed to a scheme (described below) of handing over a few Soviet 
prisoners to the ICRC, which ended due to a lack of reciprocity by the other side. 
However, as reported below, after 1985 various mujahidin groups started granting the 
ICRC access to prisoners they held in Afghanistan. The ICRC did not obtain access 
to prisoners held by mujahidin in Pakistan, since, according to the government of 
Pakistan, such prisoners did not exist. 49 

7.32 More systematically, reports cited below show that, as a matter of policy, 
some groups and commanders executed Afghan prisoners judged to be apostates, as 
recommended by the rulings in Sarf al-Ijtihad . Conscripts were generally released to 
go home. In some cases reported below, commanders held high-ranking prisoners, 
such as military officers, in hopes of exchanging them. When holding prisoners 
proved to be too much of a burden for a guerrilla force, these reports show that 
commanders might execute rather than release them, regardless of any judicial 
examination of whether the prisoners were "apostates." After the Soviet withdrawal, 
according to human rights reports, several government garrisons that surrendered to 
mujahidin groups were massacred en masse while in captivity. 

7.33 As may be imagined, since the normal living conditions of many mujahidin 
and average Afghan civilians fell short of basic minimum international standards for 
detention (adequate food and medical care, for instance), those of their prisoners fell 
even shorter. According to the reports quoted below, those deemed to have vital 
information were often tortured. Suspected spies were reportedly tortured in crude 

7.34 Various mujahidin groups and commanders also allegedly engaged in 
assassinations and other forms of extra-judicial killing, though the reports are 
sometimes not conclusive. These reportedly occurred inside Afghanistan and also in 
Pakistan. Some assassinations were attributable to disputes and rivalries among the 
mujahidin or between the mujahidin and local militia commanders. Others, like the 

47 Olivier Roy, Islam and Resistance in Afghanistan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) 
101; Rubin, Fragmentation 185-187; Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane . 

48 Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries: Human Rights in Afghanistan Since the Invasion 1979- 
1984 (New York: 1984). 

49 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War . 

page 178 

killings and disappearances carried out by the early PDPA regime, allegedly were 
attempts to eliminate or terrorize potential political rivals. Such was the goal, for 
instance, of the assassination of Professor Sayd Bahauddin Majrooh, a prominent 
philosopher and poet who had founded the department of philosophy at Kabul 
University and whose Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin was an important 
source of information for all concerned with Afghanistan from 1980 until his death at 
his unguarded home in Peshawar on February 11, 1988. 

7.35 Starting in about 1986, elements of the mujahidin began to shell Kabul and 
other cities and reportedly engage in acts of terrorism, such as assassinations, car 
bombings, and the bombing of cinemas. Some reports made certain allegations on the 
sources of the trainings for such tactics. 50 

7.36 The reports cited below indicate that although Kabul possessed numerous 
military targets there is little evidence that any of them were ever hit, with the 
occasional exception of the airport (a dual-use target), which is in an exposed position 
at the eastern edge of the city. Instead, the extremely inaccurate long-range Chinese 
and Egyptian rockets reportedly supplied to the commanders by the CIA and ISI 
generally killed and maimed civilians. Among the devices used were fragmentation 
weapons, which caused great suffering among the victims. On at least two occasions, 
a Stinger missile shot down planes with civilian passengers. In both cases the 
mujahidin claimed that the planes were military aircraft, and one seen by journalists 
had military camouflage markings. The mujahidin were not reported to have had a 
policy of targeting civilian aircraft, but civilians sometimes used military aircraft as 
the only available means of transportation. 

7.37 After the Soviet withdrawal in 1988-89, the government lost control of a 
number of areas. Mujahidin launched poorly organized offensives, and in some cases 
they rushed into formerly government-controlled areas, where they took revenge for 
the events of the previous decade. Professor Ermacora reported abuses during the 
battle of Jalalabad: 

"Particular reference must be made once more to the atrocities which 
reportedly took place during the battle for Jalalabad and are allegedly 
attributable to the opposition forces. The Special Rapporteur heard persons 
who had been witnesses to the looting, rape and killing of civilians in the 
Abrishan area on the Jalalabad-Kabul road, and in particular the abhorrent 
treatment of children." 51 

7.38 In the cities of Kunduz and Asadabad (Chaghasarai), Kunar, and the districts 
of Shinwari, Bara Momand, and Shewa, Nangarhar Province, mujahidin reportedly 
committed serious abuses, including summary executions of suspected "communists" 
and rape. In urban areas some of these acts were in apparent conformity with the 
ruling in Sarf al-Ijtihad that women not wearing what the mujahidin considered to be 
hijab could be attacked. These events in 1988 were the first time that "mujahidin" 
were reported to have committed rape. In Shewa, many reports also spoke of killings 
and rapes by the Arab fighters who were now accompanying the mujahidin. During 

50 Coll, Ghost Wars 132-135. 

51 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 990/25) para. 74. 


this period, reports began circulating of particularly harsh abuse by these foreigners, 
including attacks on Western relief workers and journalists and the trafficking of the 
captured women of "apostates." These women were treated as slaves in accord with 
an interpretation of shari'a similar to that in Sarf al-Ijtihad . though some Afghan 
ulama opposed such enslavement on legal grounds consistent with the arguments in 
Sarf al-Ijtihad . Such captured and enslaved women, as well as their children, were 
reported to have been trafficked through Pakistan to the Persian Gulf, but to our 
knowledge this has not been the subject of any further investigation. 52 

C. Treatment of Prisoners 

7.39 The treatment of prisoners by mujahidin evolved in the course of the war. 
According to a Human Rights Watch study conducted in 1987: 

(a) "The mujahedin do not now seem to have a widespread practice of 
executing prisoners on the spot, in the heat of battle, as was the case in the 
early years of the war. Most of the combatants understand the necessity for 
taking prisoners alive and bringing them to higher authorities for purposes of 
investigation and trial. This in itself is an advance over the earlier practices of 
some guerrilla groups. 

(b) "Once the prisoners are brought in, certain procedures are said to be 
followed. They are by no means uniform among all the commanders or 
parties, or even among the commanders in one party, but in general it appears 
that the mujahedin investigate the prisoners before they are sent to the judge. 
The investigation includes interrogation of other captured soldiers and 
officers, interrogation of the prisoner, and sometimes inquiring of the 
commander in the place of origin of the prisoner about his reputation. There 
are allegations of torture to make prisoners confess that they are Communists 
or guilty of crimes. 

(c) "Those released are mostly foot soldiers forcibly recruited into the 
DRA army or those who have some connections with the mujahedin (family or 
tribal connections, or are mujahedin collaborators). Other prisoners, not 
believed to be Communists, are held for short periods of time, sometimes for 
exchange, sometimes for reeducation, and sometimes as labor. Soviets are 
now usually held for exchange, a change from the earlier practice of executing 

(d) "A Jamiat spokesman said that he knew of two occasions in 1986 when 
his group exchanged Soviet prisoners for mujahedin prisoners, once north of 
Kabul and once in Herat. The Kabul government has never publicized these 
exchanges. Other exchanges, where Afghans are exchanged for Afghans have 
taken place as well on a very local basis. 

(e) "For others there is a judicial proceeding, in which a religiously- 
trained judge applies the Islamic code to the charges against the prisoner. The 

Asia Watch, "Policies of the Pakistan Military" 4. 

page 180 

prisoner has an opportunity to speak for himself, although he does not have the 
right to a defense attorney. Rarely is there any provision for appeal. 

(f) "To the mujahedin combatants and commanders, it is a proper court, 
justly applying the laws of Islam to criminals. They are not ashamed of the 
procedures or the resultant death sentences, and talk freely with visitors about 
them when asked." 53 

D. Killing of Soviet Prisoners 

7.40 During the Herat uprising in March 1979, an undetermined number of civilian 
advisers from the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries (some reports 
mention advisers from Czechoslovakia) were reportedly killed by the rebels. Reports 
claim that in some cases their families were also killed. There is no indication that 
these killings were the result of planning or centralized decision-making by any 
organization. 54 

7.41 After the intervention by the Soviet military, when a Soviet soldier fell into the 
hands of Afghan mujahidin or villagers in the early years of the war, according to 
reports, he stood a good chance of being killed, sometimes by horrific methods. No 
accounts indicate that Soviet soldiers were executed after a judicial proceeding of any 
kind. In 1981, Commander Ahmad Shah Massoud explained to the Christian Science 
Monitor 's Edward Girardet why he held no Soviet prisoners: 

"Hatred for the Russians is just too great. Many mujahedin have lost their 
families or homes through communist terror. Their first reaction when coming 
across a Russian is to kill him." 55 

7.42 Most of the killings seemed to reflect such a desire for revenge. John 
Fullerton, a journalist with the Far Eastern Economic Review , reported: 

"Early on the fate of captured Soviets was often gruesome. One group was 
killed, skinned and hung up in a butcher's shop. One captive found himself 
the centre of attraction in a game of buzkashi, that rough and tumble form of 
Afghan polo in which a headless goat is usually the ball. The captive was 
used instead. Alive. He was literally torn to pieces. Russians who display no 
interest in or knowledge of religion are regarded as infidels, unbelievers 
[atheists, technically]. According to the custom of badal or revenge, their 
deaths may properly be demanded by the locals, many of whom will be 
involved in feuds with the Soviets through the loss of relatives in the war." 56 

7.43 Soviet troops told many such stories. One of the reprisal massacres reported 
in Chapter Four occurred after such a killing. A Soviet deserter told Human Rights 

53 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 64-65. 

54 Dorronsoro, La revolution afghane : Anthony Arnold, Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in 
Perspective (Stanford, Cal.: Hoover Institution, 1985) 80. 

55 Christian Science Monitor . September 24, 1981, cited in Coll, Ghost Wars 117. 

56 John Fullerton, The Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan (Hong Kong: Far Eastern Economic Review 
Ltd., 1983), quoted in Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 69. 


Watch in Peshawar on September 21, 1984, about an incident he had witnessed on the 
road between Tashqurghan (formerly Khulm) and Mazar-i Sharif in April 1982 while 
stationed in Balkh Province with the 122nd Brigade: 

"Besides our brigade's garrison, there was a special commando unit. The 
brother of the commander of the unit was a captain in the same unit. It was the 
birthday of the commander. They drank too much vodka. The captain took 
three soldiers and went to the town of Tashqorghan to get grapes and apples. 
When they went to the town, they were captured by the mujahidin. They were 
killed and then cut up and dropped in the water." 57 

7.44 During 1981 the resistance parties in Pakistan agreed to allow the ICRC access 
to Soviet prisoners, and, according to reports, word apparently went out to 
commanders in the field to try to keep Soviet prisoners alive. 58 The ICRC began 
negotiations and worked out an agreement. In a June 1984 press release, it stated: 

(a) "Negotiations carried out by the ICRC with, successively, the USSR, 
the Afghan opposition movements, Pakistan, and Switzerland led to partial 
success. The parties agreed to the transfer and internment in a neutral country 
of Soviet soldiers detained by the Afghan opposition movements, in 
application, by analogy, of the Third Geneva Convention, relative to the 
treatment of prisoners of war. 

(b) "On the basis of this agreement, the ICRC has had access to some of 
the Soviet prisoners in the hands of the Afghan movements and has informed 
them, in the course of interviews without witness, of the possibility for transfer 
by the ICRC to Switzerland, where they would spend two years under the 
responsibility and watch of the Swiss government before returning to their 
country of origin. . . . 

(c) "To date, eleven Soviet soldiers have accepted the proposal. The first 
three were transferred to Switzerland on 28 May 1982. Eight others arrived in 
August and October 1982, January and October 1983, and February and April 
1984." 59 

7.45 The ICRC had only "partial" success, however, for several reasons. One is that 
it could have access only to those prisoners held in or near Pakistan, as it was not yet 
able to operate in Afghanistan or Iran. 60 The main problem, however, was that, until 
1987, the Soviets and the Kabul government refused to let the ICRC interview their 
prisoners. ICRC official Francois Zen Ruffinen told Human Rights Watch in an 
interview in Peshawar on 22 September 1984 that "the leaders of the resistance groups 
understand our needs and try to cooperate with us, but they tell us they are under a lot 
of pressure from their men, since there is no reciprocation from the other side." 61 

Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 196. 
Helsinki Watch, Tears Blood, and Cries 197-198. 

ICRC press release of May 20, 1984, published in ICRC Bulletin . June 1984. 
Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 197. 
Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 198. 

page 182 

7.46 After this initial experience, the resistance groups became reluctant to 
cooperate with the ICRC. According to reports, some once again began killing Soviet 
prisoners, while others held them but did not permit them to be transferred abroad. 
Alexander Liakhovsky, a former Soviet soldier, reports in his memoirs that in August 
to October 1984 two Soviet prisoners, V. Mescheriakov and V. Kiselev, who were in 
captivity in the jail (camp) Mubariz (120 the north of Quetta in 
Qandahar province) could not endure torture and hanged themselves. 62 Some 
resistance groups tried to hold Soviet prisoners in Pakistan, but this stopped after late 
April 1985, when a group of Soviet soldiers and Afghan army officers held by the 
Jamiat-i Island resistance party at a storage depot near Zangali, about twenty-five 
kilometers south of Peshawar, were killed in an escape attempt. 63 The international 
repercussions of this incident, principally pressure from the Soviet Union, led the 
government of Pakistan to insist that all Soviet prisoners be moved back inside 
Afghanistan. 64 Following the transfer of Soviet prisoners back to Afghanistan, the 
ICRC began discussions with the Peshawar-based parties regarding the possibility of 
prisoner protection visits to resistance detention centers inside Afghanistan. 65 The 
Kabul authorities protested to Pakistan against these acts three weeks later, but the 
ICRC continued to use its "right of initiative" to make such visits. 66 Nearly all of the 
ICRC visits to detainees of the mujahidin concerned Afghan rather than Soviet 

E. Execution of Afghan Military Prisoners 

7.47 When Afghan Army officers were captured, they were often investigated by 
resistance representatives or an Islamic court to see whether they were party members 
(apostates), after which they were tried. When they were found to be apostates, the 
sentence frequently was death, as recommended in Sarf al-Ijtihad . 67 These detentions 
and executions reportedly occurred in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The ICRC had 
access to some prisoners held by the mujahidin in Afghanistan, but none to those held 
in Pakistan, where torture was reportedly widespread. 68 

7.48 Jeff B. Harmon, an independent film producer who visited resistance bases 
near Qandahar in 1985, described the following scenes, which he also captured on 

62 Alexander Liakhovsky, Tpareang h ao6necTi> AtbraHa (Tragediya i Doblest' Afgana — Afghanistan: 
Tragedy and Valor ) (Moscow: Iskona, 1995) 281. 

63 Jeri Laber and Barnett R. Rubin, A Nation is Dying: Afghanistan Under the Soviets 1979-1987 . 
(Evanston, 111.: Northwestern University Press, 1988) 70. This incident was also reported in 
Liakhovsky 279-280. 

64 See Steven R. Weisman, "Blast in Pakistan Has Officials Jittery," The New York Times . May 16, 

65 Agence France-Presse . Islamabad, August 22, 1985. 

66 BAKHTAR (Afghan government news agency), Kabul, September 5, 1985. Quoted in Federal 
Broadcast Information Service 8 (September 5, 1985): C— 1. 

67 Helsinki Watch, Tears Blood, and Cries 72; Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the 
Conflict 63. 

68 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 71. 


(a) "In Mahalajat, outside Qandahar, at the headquarters of resistance 
leader Haji Abdul Latif 59 of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, (led by 
Gailani), I saw 12 Afghan army prisoners lined up in chains before a judge 
named Mawlawi Abdul Bari, who was awaiting orders to execute them from 
the guerrillas' high command in Peshawar, Pakistan. Bari claims to have 
executed 2,500 prisoners. 

(b) "The judge told me: T have personally slit the throats of 1 ,000 khalqis. 
I have sent 500 Russians infidels to the gallows.' Other prisoners, he said, 
were shot, decapitated or stoned to death. 

(c) "This information was given in front of the 12 prisoners, whose own 
fate seemed certain. They listened impassively, while the judge's chief 
executioner, Muhammad Juma, fondled an axe and grinned. 'This is no 
ordinary axe,' he said. 'This is for halal [execution by blade].' 

(d) "But Bari's brand of justice is swift and formal compared with that of 
the mujahiddin at Markazee Apo [sic], a Hizbi-islami [Hikmatyar branch] 
guerrilla camp in Kandahar province. There, 12 prisoners, presumably 
Russian, were recently bayonetted to death. The stench from their 
decomposing bodies, buried in makeshift graves, permeates the camp." 70 

7.49 Agence France-Presse correspondent Michel Martin-Roland witnessed the 
following scenes in May 1983 in the Barri Fort in Paktia Province, which had just 
fallen to one of the resistance groups (he did not state which one): 

"Under a tent sit six Afghan officers, tank drivers trained in the Soviet Union. 
Pale, frightened, they listen to a mawlawi (Muslim scholar) teaching them and 
agree in a trembling voice to all of his criticisms. Outside, an unbearable odor: 
fifty prisoners have been shot in the last three days, then thrown into a mass 
grave covered with a few shovels of earth. 'The irredeemable Communists 
were executed. Others were shot while trying to escape,' stated one of the 
guards." 71 

7.50 A well-documented incident of the mass execution of Afghan military 
prisoners took place nearby in 1986, in the mujahidin base of Jawar, Paktia (now 
Khost). The commander of this base was Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani, then a 
member of the Hizb-i Island (Khalis). Mawlawi Jalaluddin later became Minister of 
Frontiers and Tribal Affairs and an important military commander of the Taliban's 
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. 72 Currently (2004) he is reported to be the leading 

69 Haji Abdul Latif, a commander of the Barakzai tribe, was the father of Gul Agha Shirzai, who is 
currently the Minister of Urban Development and Construction and was previously the governor of 
Qandahar. As noted below, Haji Abdul Latif was poisoned in 1988 by his bodyguards. 

70 Jeff B. Harmon, "Toe to Toe with Russians in Kandahar's Holy War," Sunday Times . London, 
August 11, 1985. Also reported in Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 72. The National Islamic 
Front of Afghanistan denounced the film as a fabrication. 

71 Agence France Presse . Barri Fort, East Afghanistan, May 1, 1983. 

72 Rashid, Taliban . 

page 184 

commander of the Taliban resistance to the US-led coalition and the government of 
Afghanistan in southeast Afghanistan. 

7.5 1 Soviet/DRA forces attacked the base in Jawar in March 1986, allegedly killing 
115 mujahidin before withdrawing. Mawlawi Jalaluddin's mujahidin reportedly 
captured several hundred Afghan troops. They were investigated for four weeks. In a 
videotaped trial, forty-five officers confessed to being communists, studying in the 
USSR, receiving DRA medals, and participating in attacks on mujahidin. Their 
execution, also captured on videotape, was carried out by brothers of mujahidin who 
had died in the battle. According to reports, the mujahidin did not bury the bodies of 
these "apostates" but left them exposed. 73 

7.52 Prisoners captured by Mawlawi Jalaluddin who were found to be less guilty 
were interviewed by the ICRC. They were reportedly employed in clearing mines left 
by the government forces, causing many of them to be injured, and some killed. In 
April 1987 representatives of the ICRC witnessed the freeing of 138 of these Afghan 
army prisoners in the tribal areas on the border. 74 

7.53 Besides those executions carried out supposedly in accordance with shari'a 
rules for the treatment of apostates who attack Muslims, other executions of prisoners 
allegedly occurred for reasons of convenience or during rescue attempts. John 
Fullerton of Far Eastern Economic Review reported an incident in the early 1980s 
when mujahidin were escorting six Soviet POWs to Pakistan to be interviewed by the 
ICRC. When they were attacked by DRA forces, they killed their prisoners in order 
to escape with their own lives into the hills. 75 

7.54 In November 1985, Ahmad Shah Massoud captured the Afghan army garrison 
in Nahrin, Baghlan province, the first time that a resistance commander gained a 
victory of this magnitude. 76 He took several hundred soldiers prisoner. He released 
many of them but kept a number variously estimated at between 50 and 250 officers 
and agents of KhAD in the hope of exchanging them for captured mujahidin. 
Negotiations were underway for the exchange when the Soviets launched a rescue 
attempt. According to one account, when Massoud realized his forces would have to 
retreat from the area where the prisoners were held, he ordered them all killed. Soviet 
sources told of coming across the executed bodies. Jamiat representatives claim that 
when bombs were dropped where the prisoners were held, those prisoners who 
survived tried to escape and were killed in the crossfire. 77 

73 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 66. 

74 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 70-71; Reuters . Islamabad, April 10, 

75 Fullerton 145; cited in Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict . 

76 Richard Mackenzie, later of CNN, filmed the preparations for the battle and the engagement itself. 

77 Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 67. This incident was reported in 
Liakhovsky 281. Liakhovsky reported, "Soviet troops discovered more than 200 killed Afghan 
government soldiers. Most of them were tortured: cut off hands, legs, noses, heads, ears. We had 
information that there were some Soviet prisoners there, but none of them was found." Translated and 
provided by Vladimir Plastun. 


7.55 Massoud's representative, Mohammad Eshaq, later frankly described the 
dilemma of such situations to Human Rights Watch in Peshawar on July 7, 1990: 

"You sometimes face difficult questions. Suppose you have a large number of 
prisoners and the enemy arrives and you know if the enemy gets to them, 
you'll have all of them fighting against you. What do you do? You fire. It's 
different if the number of prisoners is small or the enemy is far away. Then 
you can save them for exchange. But with a highly mobile army in combat, 
it's difficult." 78 

7.56 The following reports indicate that in the course of and following the Soviet 
withdrawal, several garrisons of the Afghan army surrendered to mujahidin only to be 
summarily executed. There were no reports of any judicial proceedings or trials for 
apostasy or espionage. According to reports, revenge was the sole factor in these 

7.57 According to Special Rapporteur Ermacora: 

"In September-October 1988, after the fall of Chigal in Kunar Province, 22 
Afghan soldiers have allegedly been executed after having surrendered to the 
Mujahidin in the garrison of Asmal [Asmar]. During the same period looting 
by the opposition movements was reported to have occurred in two villages, 
Dam Kaley and Dari-i-Nour [Darra-yi Nur, a valley]." 79 

7.58 Both Professor Ermacora and Human Rights Watch reported on the massacre 
of the Torkham garrison. This garrison guarded the main crossing point into 
Afghanistan at the top of the Khyber Pass along the road from Peshawar to Jalalabad 
and Kabul. When the Soviet troops withdrew from the east, the garrison found itself 
isolated and surrendered to the Pakistani authorities in November 1988. Pakistan 
turned the soldiers over to mujahidin of Hizb-i Island (Khalis). The leaders of this 
party in Nangarhar were Hajji Abdul Qadir (who was assassinated in July 2002, when 
he was Vice-President of Afghanistan) and his brother, Haji Din Muhammad (who 
succeeded Haji Abdul Qadir as governor of Nangarhar when the latter became Vice- 
President). According to representatives of international humanitarian organizations 
who spoke to Human Rights Watch, "77 of [the prisoners] were summarily executed 
and their bodies packed into tea crates and dumped across the border [in 
Afghanistan]." 80 

7.59 A second group of Afghan government soldiers reportedly stipulated that they 
would surrender only to Sebghatullah Mojaddedi's party. He accepted custody of 
about two hundred prisoners, who were immediately interviewed by the ICRC. Most 
were later released. 81 

78 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 53. 

79 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 989/24) para. 55. 

80 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War ; See also E/CN. 4/1989/24 para. 55, which gave the number killed 
as seventy-nine. 

81 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 53. 

page 186 

7.60 Two years later, two other such massacres occurred in Uruzgan and Zabul 

"In October 1990, following a major offensive by a number of mujahidin 
commanders from various parties, the provincial capitals of Qalat [Zabul] and 
Tarin Kot [Uruzgan] came under siege. On October 4, the governor of 
Oruzgan province, Abdul Shakoor, surrendered in Tarin Kot along with the 
Afghan government garrison. Some 95 soldiers who surrendered were taken 
into custody by mujahidin guerrillas and executed. Another group of soldiers 
who either surrendered or were captured at Qalat [Zabul], numbering as many 
as 170, were also executed. According to press reports, the soldiers had been 
promised safe passage by the guerrillas." 82 

7.61 The US reportedly protested both of these incidents to the mujahidin 
authorities and urged them to respect the Geneva Conventions. 83 

F. Torture, Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 
and Conditions of Detention of 
Military Prisoners and Suspected Spies 

7.62 From time to time the Afghan resistance groups took other kinds of prisoners, 
usually people suspected of spying for the government. These prisoners were 
reportedly often tortured. Human Rights Watch heard of cases in which torture 
resulted in false confessions of guilt. Human Rights Watch also reported that 
suspected spies were sentenced to death by Islamic courts and executed. 

7.63 A former high school student interviewed by Human Rights Watch described 
how he became a prisoner of an Afghan resistance group affiliated with the Ittihad-i 
Island (led by Sayyaf): 

"After my brother was arrested [by KhAD in Kabul], my father told me and 
my other brother that we also might be arrested, so we should leave Kabul and 
join the mujahidin. So we went to Paghman to join the mujahidin, but they 
made us prisoners, because they thought we had been sent by KhAD. They 
didn't trust us, because they have a big problem with KhAD, and also they had 
found that students of my age from the government schools may be on the side 
of the government. So my brother and I were prisoners of the mujahidin for 
thirteen months. They also tortured us by beating us on the feet. But we didn't 
blame them. Some of the people are agents. Finally we confessed we belonged 
to KhAD. Then they kept beating us for a while. Eventually they stopped and 
let me work as their cook." 84 

82 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 52. The mujahidin in Tarin Kot included the Jamiat forces 
commanded by Mullah Naqibullah and Mullah Faruq of Qandahar. Those killed in Qalat were 
reportedly members of the pro-government Nurzai militia, whose cruelties had created many feuds with 
other tribes in the area. This incident was reported in "Kabul Rebels Reported to Kill 200 Soldiers," 
New York Times . November 11, 1990. 

83 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 53. 

84 Laber and Rubin, A Nation is Dying 72-73. Interview in Peshawar, September 25, 1984. 


7.64 There were many other reports about the treatment of those suspected of 

(a) "Gul Mohammad [a resistance commander in Logar] said that towards 
the end of April [1983], four leading figures of the local informants' network 
were arrested at Zaidabad, Nazarkhel, Kotikhel, and Pol-e-Kandari; documents 
seized from them showed their close connections with the Soviet-Kabul 
authorities and the extent of their activities in the province. After having been 
tried by an Islamic resistance court, they were executed." 86 

(b) "The leader of the Afghan resistance in the Panjshir Valley, 
'Commander' Ahmad Shah Massoud, has reportedly undertaken a vast purge 
among his resistance fighters, unmasking about fifty agents infiltrated from 
Kabul by the secret police (KhAD), Western diplomatic sources revealed 
Tuesday in Islamabad. According to this same source, these agents of the 
'KhAD' were imprisoned in Rokha, in the southern part of the valley, on 4 
April [1984], where they are awaiting trial. Some of the communist regime's 
spies had portable radio transmitters. A source close to the resistance in 
Peshawar indicated that the mujahidin of Panjshir were continually on guard 
against infiltrators. The agents of the 'KhAD' who are discovered are killed, 
turned into double agents, or imprisoned." 87 

(c) "In the summer of 1982 I [Olivier Roy, French author and researcher] 
saw a trial near Herat, in a village controlled by the Jamiat-i Island. The 
resistance had arrested an agent of the KhAD and imprisoned him in a house. 
This agent managed to escape, and, when they caught him, they beat him 
pretty badly. The next day a qazi [Islamic judge] was summoned, because the 
family of the KhAD agent had gone to the resistance court and entered a 
complaint against the mujahidin. The family of the KhAD agent actually went 
to the resistance court! And I was there the next day, when the qazi came in 
and started yelling at the commander. He said, 'Torture is forbidden by Islam. 
We should not adopt the practices of our enemy, or we will have no right to 
fight against him.' The resistance chief really tried to excuse his men; he said, 
'We didn't really torture him — he was escaping,' and so on. But the qazi 
examined the prisoner and saw he had cut lips and a black eye and rebuked the 
commander again. 

(d) "Then the qazi convened a court of four judges and held a trial. This 
trial lasted over a week, maybe eight or ten days. I attended many of the 
sessions. The prisoner was charged with having caused the death of a member 
of the resistance. The qazi called a lot of witnesses, including the family of the 
accused. In the end the prisoner was found guilty and executed." 88 

85 The following reports were collected in Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and Cries 202-206. 

86 Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin . 21 (June 1983) 3; Helsinki Watch, Tears. Blood, and 
Cries 204. 

87 Agence France Presse . Islamabad, April 17, 1984. 

88 Helsinki Watch, Tears Blood, and Cries 204-205. Testimony of Olivier Roy, French political 
scientist and expert on Afghanistan; interview in New York City, April 25, 1984. 

page 188 

7.65 Human Rights Watch's 1990 report, Afghanistan: The Forgotten War , 
included a detailed survey of practices and conditions of detention by Afghan 
mujahidin organizations in both Pakistan and many regions of Afghanistan. The 
organization observed: 

"Control of these prisons and detention procedures is entirely in the hands of 
the commander or the party; the treatment of prisoners varies depending on the 
practices of individual commanders and party leaders. International 
humanitarian organizations have access to some of the jails in Afghanistan and 
in the Tribal Agencies [of Pakistan], but not to those in Pakistan [settled 
territory]. No uniform safeguards govern detention procedures, and there are 
few if any safeguards against ill-treatment and torture of prisoners. Even the 
location of these prisons and detention centers is difficult to confirm, as are the 
numbers of those detained." 89 

7.66 In prisons operated by Hikmatyar and Khalis commanders, torture was 
reported to be widespread. Restraining devices such as chains and leg irons were 
reportedly widely used. 90 

G. Political Assassination and Enforced Disappearances 

7.67 There is very little record of the assassinations inside Afghanistan in the early 
years of the war, and where there is some information available it is usually 
impossible to determine from the available information whether killings took place as 
part of shootouts or as assassinations. The early years of the massive refugee flow 
into Peshawar and the surrounding areas also saw many killings and disappearances. 
John Fullerton reported the assassination of nine commanders in Peshawar in the four 
months ending in March 1983, and a source cited by Human Rights Watch agreed that 
in 1979-1983, Gulbuddin Hikmatyar "had terror squads roaming Peshawar, picking 
up suspected Afghan 'leftists,' bringing them in to their detention centers, torturing 
them, and killing them off" 91 In 1983, according to Human Rights Watch, "the 
Pakistan government asserted control over the situation, and the use of detention 
centers for Afghans captured out of combat seemed to decline." 92 

7.68 After the Soviet withdrawal, as the mujahidin, now under less pressure from 
the enemy, intensified their struggles with each other, assassination allegedly took on 
a systematic character. The political struggle also became intertwined with the 
struggle over control of the profits from the growing opium trade. 

7.69 A new US envoy to the Afghan mujahidin, Ed Mc Williams, arrived in 
Pakistan in the summer of 1988 as the Soviet withdrawal was getting underway. He 
found evidence that "Gulbuddin Hekmatyar — backed by officers in ISI's Afghan 
bureau, operatives from the Muslim Brotherhood's Jamaat-e-islami [a Pakistani 
Islamist party], officers from Saudi intelligence, and Arab volunteers from a dozen 

Helsinki Watch, The Forgotten War 101. 
Helsinki Watch, The Forgotten War 101. 

Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 38. 
Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict 38. 


countries — was moving systematically to wipe out his rivals in the Afghan resistance. 
. . . Hekmatyar and his kingpin commanders were serially kidnapping and murdering 
mujahedin royalists, intellectuals, rival party commanders — anyone who threatened 
strong alternative leadership." 93 

7.70 The following are a few of the better known reported examples of alleged 
killings from that time, not all of them clearly attributable to Hikmatyar: 

(a) In early 1988 Ahmad Shah Massoud's older half-brother, Din 
Muhammad, was kidnapped and killed hours after he visited the US consulate 
to apply for a visa. Massoud's brothers believed that the killing was carried 
out by the ISFs Afghan cell. 94 

(b) In the summer of 1989, Massoud was planning a military offensive to 
capture the town of Kunduz. He knew that the disorganized rush into the town 
in 1988 had discredited the mujahidin and hoped to capture and administer the 
town credibly. After a strategy meeting in Taluqan, a group of his senior 
commanders were returning to their bases. On July 9, as they passed through 
the Farkhar gorge in Takhar, they were ambushed by Hizb-i Island fighters led 
by commander Sayyid Jamal. According to US journalist Richard Mackenzie, 
who was reporting from the area at the time, five were killed in the ambush 
and twenty-five summarily executed afterwards. Hikmatyar claimed that the 
killings occurred as a result of a local dispute, leading to casualties on both 
sides. Jamiat claimed to US diplomats and Western journalists that it had 
intercepted radio communications showing that the killings were ordered from 
Peshawar by Abdul Qadir Qaryab, head of the political committee of Hizb-i 
Island. The facts remain to be established by an impartial source. Massoud 
arrested Sayyid Jamal and his associates, had them tried by a court in Panjshir, 
which found them guilty of murder, and executed them. 95 

(c) On August 8, 1989, Haji Abdul Latif, a commander of NIFA from the 
Barakzai tribe in Qandahar, died from poisoning. His son, Gul Agha Shirzai, 
claimed that the Soviets had paid two of his father's bodyguards for the 
murder, but in private he blamed Hikmatyar. Haji Abdul Latif had supported 
the return of Zahir Shah. Several months earlier, when the ISI tried to send 
Hikmatyar to Qandahar, Haji Abdul Latif had shelled his convoy and 
prevented him from arriving. He also had developed a cooperative 
relationship with the Parchami governor of Qandahar, a fellow Barakzai, 
General Abdul Haq Ulumi. The ISI had reportedly warned him he would be 
killed. Haji Abdul Latif was one of a series of tribal elders assassinated in 
Qandahar. Others were former Senator Abdul Razzaq and Haji Habib, a 
Popolzai elder. 96 

Coll. Ghost Wars 181. 

Coll. Ghost Wars 182. 

Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 54-55. 

Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 111; Rubin, Fragmentation . 

page 190 

(d) On September 14, 1989, Haji Hussein Karokhel, a commander of the 
Karokhel clan of the Ahmadzai tribe, was assassinated, along with his 
pregnant wife, in the Bada Bira camp outside Peshawar. 97 

(e) On March 25, 1990, Mullah Nasim Akhundzada and five of his 
bodyguards were assassinated in Cherat, Pakistan, twenty-five kilometers east 
of Peshawar. Akhundzada, a commander of Harakat-i Inqilab (Muhammadi), 
controlled the opium-growing areas of north Helmand, where he became one 
of Afghanistan's first drug-based warlords. He was also the Minister of 
Defense in the Interim Government. He collected the raw opium grown in his 
territory and sold it to commanders of Hizb-i Island for processing and 
trafficking. He had negotiated a deal with the US ambassador to Pakistan, 
Robert Oakley, under which he would ban opium cultivation in return for $2 
million, which, to his considerable disappointment, came in the form of 

US AID development programs rather than suitcases full of $100 bills. The 
ban on opium cultivation embroiled him in a feud with his former customers 
in the drug trade, who reportedly had him killed, and opium production 
subsequently resumed. Harakat-i Inqilab reportedly arrested a Hizb-i Island 
commander for the murder and executed him. 98 

(f) On November 24, 1989, the Palestinian Islamic scholar Abdullah 
Azam, head of Maktab al-Khidamat, the "office of services" that coordinated 
private Islamist aid to the mujahidin and refugees, was killed with his two sons 
by a car bomb. At the time of his death, Azam was reportedly embroiled in a 
dispute with al-Qaida and Usama Bin Laden over the latter's diversion of 
contributions meant for the jihad in Afghanistan to global Islamist goals. 
While Bin Laden was openly siding with Hikmatyar in the latter's struggle for 
dominance, Azam had attempted to reconcile Hikmatyar and Massoud; his 
Algerian son-in-law worked for the latter. 99 

(g) On June 11, 1990, Nasrullah Shariatyar, a Hikmatyar commander in 
Khanabad, Kunduz, was assassinated in Peshawar. Human Rights Watch 
believed that the killing may have resulted from disputes within Hizb-i Island 
(Hikmatyar). 100 

Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 111. 

Asia Watch, The Forgotten War : Rubin, Fragmentation . 

Coll, Ghost Wars 202-204. 

' Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 110. 


7.71 In addition to assassinations of rival commanders, some of the parties also 
allegedly assassinated members of other rival elites, in particular intellectuals and 
employees of NGOs or international organizations. The best known such example is 
the killing of Sayd Bahauddin Majrooh. Majrooh was a professor at Kabul University 
and founder of the Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin , which drew on a 
vast network of informants to become the single most reliable and consistent source of 
information about the situation in Afghanistan. He was an indispensable resource for 
all those trying to understand what was happening in Afghanistan, including human 
rights organizations. 

7.72 In early 1988, as the Soviet Union prepared to sign the Geneva Accords under 
which it would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan, there was intense diplomatic 
activity dealing with the question of a transitional government in Afghanistan. 
Majrooh' s Centre conducted a rough survey of refugees in Pakistan, which showed 
that approximately seventy percent preferred a government led by the exiled former 
king, Zahir Shah, a view which was widely known to be Majrooh' s own as well. The 
survey also showed that the leaders of the Islamist parties supported by Pakistan had 
negligible support. Just as the Soviet special envoy Yuli Vorontsov arrived in 
Pakistan for talks on a transitional government, gunmen murdered the sixty-year-old 
Majrooh in his home on February 11, 1988. Majrooh had received a death threat from 
Hizb-i Islami (Hikmatyar) one week earlier. 101 

7.73 According to an investigation carried out by the Afghanistan Justice Project, 
Majrooh was killed on the personal orders of Gulbuddin Hikmatyar on the grounds 
that Majrooh was supporting Zahir Shah and attacking mujahidin leaders. The killing 
was allegedly planned by Hikmatyar together with his cousin, Dost Mohammad 
Khan, Rahmatullah Zubair of Paktia, Ghulam Nabi Khan of Paktia, and Mijur of 
Paktia. According to investigations carried out by the Afghanistan Justice Project, the 
killing was allegedly carried out by Mijur and two of his relatives. Mijur reportedly 
had Pakistani permits for weapons and a Toyota Land Cruiser whose number plates 
were allegedly known to Pakistani police and which they were under orders not to 
stop. 102 There is little evidence that Pakistan conducted a criminal investigation of his 
murder, and no one was ever arrested or charged, as in all such cases of political 
killings of Afghans in Pakistan. 103 

7.74 There were many more such cases reported. According to human rights 
reports, leaders and some members of secular or leftist parties could expect death 
threats or assassination in Peshawar. This extended to Afghan Millat (a Pashtun 
nationalist party), the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA 
— a feminist organization with roots in Afghanistan's "Maoist" movements), and the 
Maoist parties ShuTa-yi Javid (eternal flame) and SAMA (Sazman-i Azadbakhsh-i 
Mardum-i Afghanistan, Liberation Organization of the People of Afghanistan). All of 

101 Rubin, Fragmentation . 

102 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past: The Legacy of War Crimes and the Political 
Transition in Afghanistan (October 2004) 18. 

103 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 122-123. 

page 192 

these organizations were also allegedly persecuted by the PDPA regime, which is why 
their leaders and members fled to Pakistan. 104 

7.75 The threats, arrests, and killings were hardly limited to those with such 
political associations. As the examples cited below show, those who supported the 
nationalist or royalist politics of the old regime could also be threatened, as could 
tribal elders who opposed the domination of Islamist commanders, Afghans 
associated with western organizations such as relief groups, and women whose 
professional roles violated the strictures that the Islamists wanted to impose. Dr. 
Mohammad Azam Dadfar, the psychiatrist whose work with victims of torture and 
other abuses by the Soviets and the DRA was reported in previous chapters, was 
forced to flee Peshawar and close his clinic, the only psychiatric facility for the three 
to four million refugees in Pakistan, when extremists attacked his clinic and 
threatened him. 105 

7.76 Some threats specifically targeted women, especially those working for 
international humanitarian organizations. Human Rights Watch reported that one 
women's organization "received a letter which stated that if its members did not stop 
attending a 'health course,' they would be killed." Fatwas issued by unknown 
organizations threatened any woman who wore "close-fitting" or improper clothes, 
who wore perfume or cosmetics, who went out "without her husband's permission," 
who talked "with men who are not her close relatives," were "walking with pride," or 
"walking in the middle of the street." This document specifically threatened a number 
of schools for girls and women in Peshawar. 106 

7.77 Except where otherwise noted, the following cases of threats, disappearances, 
and assassinations come from a Human Rights Watch report: 107 

(a) Sometime in 1987, Zia Naudrat, a well-known blind Afghan poet, 
disappeared from Peshawar. His family told US government officials that he 
had gone to the office of Hizb-i Island (Hikmatyar) to complain about death 
threats he was receiving. 108 

(b) Just before the assassination of Majrooh, on February 4, 1988, Mina 
Keshwar Kamal, the founder of RAWA, was assassinated in Quetta. RAWA 
has always charged that Gulbuddin Hikmatyar masterminded this killing with 
the complicity of the ISI. 109 Nothing is known about any investigation by the 
Pakistan authorities. 

104 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War 1 12-123. 

105 Personal communication, Dr. Mohammad Azam Dadfar. 

106 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War . 

107 The following list is mostly summarized from Asia Watch, The Forgotten War . Professor Ermacora 
referred to it in E/CN. 4/1990/25 para. 52-54. He mentioned the cases of Dr. Ludin, Wadud, and 
Majrooh and noted, "Further allegations of threat and intimidation were once again drawn to the 
attention of the Special Rapporteur." 

los "Afghan Refugees Assassinated and Disappeared in Pakistan," U.S. Department of State 
Unclassified document, supplied to Asia Watch on January 9, 1992. 

109 RAWA asserts that she "was assassinated by agents of KhAD (Afghanistan branch of KGB) and 
their fundamentalist accomplices in Quetta, Pakistan" ( 


(c) In December 1988, Dr. Ruhullah Oman disappeared from his clinic in 
Peshawar. 110 

(d) Also in 1988, Azizullah Ulfat of the Intiqam-i Island party was 
killed. 111 

(e) Two days before a demonstration scheduled to commemorate the first 
anniversary of Mina Kamal's unsolved murder, Pakistani police arrested 
several members of RAW A and other leftist organizations in Quetta, including 
Dr. Farida Ahmadi, the first Afghan woman to testify internationally about her 
torture at the hands of KhAD and its Soviet advisers. 112 Three of her relatives 
and two RAWA colleagues (all male) were also arrested. Human Rights 
Watch believed that Gulbuddin Hikmatyar may have instigated these arrests. 

(f) In July 1989 gunmen shot and killed Dr. Muhammad Nasim Ludin, 
who had organized several clinics for refugees and helped human rights 
organizations in their investigations of Soviet and DRA abuses. Witnesses 
identified two men who came to the hospital to check that he was dead as 
linked to Mawlawi Yunis Khalis. They were briefly arrested and then 

(g) On August 28, 1989, Muhammad Zakir, an employee of the ICRC and 
member of Afghan Millat, was murdered in Peshawar. His relatives and 
friends believed he was killed for his political affiliation and criticism of 
extremist parties. 

(h) On September 3, 1989, Abdul Fatah Wadud, an employee of the World 
Food Program in Peshawar, disappeared after leaving his office to meet a 
member of Hizb-i Island. He had served five years in Pul-i Charkhi as a 
political prisoner in Kabul. A Hizb-i Island (Hikmatyar) spokesman 
reportedly told the family that "his release would not be easy." 

(i) On September 19, 1989, an armed man tried to shoot the principal of 
the Malalai girls' school in Peshawar, named after the similar institution in 
Kabul. A guard was injured. The school had been threatened several times. 

(j) In October 1989, Dr. Shah Mahmud Bazgar, who had left his position 
as a cancer researcher in Orleans, France, to work for French relief 
organizations in his native Afghanistan, was killed in an ambush with three of 
his colleagues near Qandahar. He had provided assistance to Human Rights 
Watch on missions in 1984 and 1985 and was the author of the book 
Afghanistan: La resistance au coeur . 113 

110 United States Department of State, "Afghan Refugees Assassinated and Disappeared in Pakistan." 

111 United States Department of State, "Afghan Refugees Assassinated and Disappeared in Pakistan." 

112 Farida Ahmadi spoke at the Permanent People's Tribune hearings in Paris and the International 
Afghanistan Hearing in Oslo in 1983. 

113 Shah Bazgar, with Regis Guyotat, Afghanistan: La resistance au coeur (Paris: Denoel, 1987). 

page 194 

(k) In October 1989, Engineer Ataullah, a former employee of the 
Ministry of Communications in Kabul, disappeared after being taken for 
questioning by the ISI. A Human Rights Watch source claimed he had been 
handed over to Hizb-i Island (Hikmatyar). 

(1) In November 1989 members of Hizb-i Islami (Hikmatyar) imprisoned 
two Afghan employees of a US aid organization in Wardak province. They 
were released after a week when one proved that he too was a member of 
Hizb-i Islami (Hikmatyar). 

(m) On January 17, 1990, a group of six Hazara men disappeared from 
their house in Peshawar. They were Hidayatullah Ahmadi, a UN employee; 
Liaqat Ali, an employee of the International Rescue Committee, a New York- 
based relief organization; two brothers of the latter, Abdul Hakim and one 
whose name was not reported; Muhammad Asif, an unemployed student; and 
Muhammad Ali, also employed at IRC. Muhammad Asif s father had been a 
provincial governor under a previous regime, and some relatives had espoused 
controversial views or been linked to Maoist organizations. 

(n) On January 21, 1990, fifteen armed men ransacked the house of Mrs. 
Nur Saraj Safi, who directed an IRC income-generating project for women. 
The men threatened to kill the whole family, all of whom left Pakistan within 

(o) On January 27, 1990, Abdul Qayyum Rahbar, linked to the Maoist 
organization ShuTa-yi Javid (Eternal Flame), was shot in front of his brother- 
in-law's house in Peshawar. His twenty-year-old nephew was wounded in the 

(p) On March 27, 1990, two or three men in a car shot dead Dr. Sadat 
Shagiwal, a physician from Nangarhar who headed the Afghan Aid 
Association. He was a member of Afghan Millat, whose clinics in 
Afghanistan were located in areas under the control of commanders belonging 
to Hizb-i Islami (Khalis). 

(q) On May 15, 1990, a female nurse named Malalai working at Dr. Ihsan 
Khattak's clinic in Peshawar was abducted with twelve others. She had 
reportedly been a military nurse with the Afghan government and had received 
a death threat in the form of a bullet in an envelope. She was reported to be 
held in the Hizb-i Islami (Hikmatyar) prison in Shamshattu, but Hikmatyar 
denied this to the Pakistani press. According to a USG document, her raped 
and mutilated body was found two weeks later. 114 

(r) In late May or early June 1990, a sixteen-year-old boy disappeared. 
He was a distinguished student in an IRC course and had just finished an exam 
when he was abducted. Friends saw him stopped by armed men who forced 
him into a black car. Pakistani police told the family that such incidents 
involving Afghans were not their concern. Another brother had disappeared 
four years earlier. 

United States Department of State, "Afghan Refugees Assassinated and Disappeared in Pakistan." 


(s) On June 2, 1990, Professor Muhammad Zahir Khatib was assassinated 
in his home in Peshawar while sleeping in his bed. A scholar of theology, he 
was a leading member of Jamiat-i Island. 

(t) On June 3, 1990, a woman employee of the IRC's women's English- 
language program was warned to cancel a trip abroad. The warning also 
demanded the closure of the women's language program. Posters appeared 
threatening death to women who continued to work for foreign aid agencies. 
The Pakistan authorities said they could not guarantee the woman's security 
and advised her to stay home. 

(u) In July 1990, a Pakistani journalist, Mansoor Khan, was murdered in 
his hotel in Peshawar, allegedly by Afghans unhappy with his reporting. 115 

(v) In 1990, Humayun Shormach, a journalist from Nuristan, was 
kidnapped from his house and disappeared. His family believed the 
disappearance was politically motivated. 116 

(w) In 1991, Professor Changzai disappeared in Peshawar. A pro-Zahir 
Shah activist, he had been publishing articles on Hikmatyar's alleged financial 
and political dealings with Libya. Hizb-i Islami (Hikmatyar) was accused of 
carrying out the abduction. In September Changzai was reported to be held in 
Hikmatyar's prison in Spina Shagai in the Tribal Areas. In December, a 
senior Pakistani official told USG officials he believed Changzai was still 
alive and being held at Dara Adam Khel south of Peshawar. Others stated that 
Changzai died in captivity. 117 

(x) Also in 1991, US AID employee Moqim Abdurrahimzai was ambushed 
in his vehicle near Peshawar. Though wounded, he escaped. 118 

(y) On August 3, 1991, unknown assailants shot and severely wounded 
Sayyid Usman Mirranay, a member of Afghan Millat. 

(z) On October 30, 1991, Dr. Abdul Zamani, the Afghan director of the 
Austrian Relief Committee, was ambushed in his vehicle on the Grand Trunk 
Road between Peshawar and Pabbi. He was shot three times but survived. 

(aa) In November 1991, Engineer Aziz, the Afghan director of the 
International Rescue Committee's English Language Program, was ambushed 
in his personal vehicle in the presence of his young son in Peshawar's 
University Town, the wealthy area where relief organizations and UN offices 

115 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of 
Human Rights in Afghanistan" (A/45/664, 1990) para. 88. 

116 United States Department of State, "Afghan Refugees Assassinated and Disappeared in Pakistan." 

117 United States Department of State, "Afghan Refugees Assassinated and Disappeared in Pakistan." 

118 United States Department of State, "Afghan Refugees Assassinated and Disappeared in Pakistan." 

page 196 

were located. He was hit by multiple rounds from automatic weapons and 
died on the spot. 119 

7.78 Many of these threats, attacks, killings, and disappearances occurred in 
Pakistan with complete impunity. Human Rights Watch wrote in 1990: 

"Pakistani authorities have failed to investigate [the abuses] properly, and have 
prosecuted no one for any of these crimes. Pakistan's failure to investigate 
these crimes and bring those responsible to justice amounts to a policy of 
complicity in human rights abuses committed by these groups within Pakistani 
territory. In a number of cases, Pakistani authorities, especially the ISI, have 
participated in abuses, including the detention of Afghan refugees suspected of 
opposing some of the parties favored by Pakistan, or handing over suspects to 
the parties for interrogation and torture." 120 

7.80 The killings reported in Pakistan, however, should not obscure the potentially 
larger number of assassinations, disappearances, and kidnappings that occurred in 
Afghanistan and were never reported. The files of the AIHRC are gradually filling up 
with accounts from all over the country like these from one person in Herat: 

(a) "Haji Ghulam Faruq, in year 1358 (1979-1980) was taken out of the 
house at 12 o'clock pm by a Jamiat commander . . . , who was a professional 
killer. My brother was an impartial person. Because he didn't pay the fine . . . 
, he was killed. 

(b) "Another brother in the name of Haji Ghulam Haidar was an employee 
in the Cotton Company in Herat, and after he retired, he was killed on 27 
Ramadan 1360 (1981) by a mujahid . . . from Baghdasht village of Herat 

(c) "Another brother by the name of Ghulam Muhiyuddin who was an 
employee of the Youth Organization Committee of Herat was killed by 
Jamiat-i Island. In the year 1364-05-21/22 (12-13 August 1985) mujahidin 
surrounded the YOC and took hostage the people inside the compound. They 
kept the hostages for ten days. The mujahidin asked for afs 100,000 [about 
$2,000 at the official rate of exchange] for the release of my brother. We paid 
them, but ... a commander belonging to Jamiat-i Island killed my brother." 121 

119 United States Department of State, "Afghan Refugees Assassinated and Disappeared in Pakistan." 

120 Asia Watch, The Forgotten War . Asia Watch pointed out that some of the abuses occurred within 
Pakistani territory proper and others in the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, where Pakistani 
law does not apply and there are no regular courts. 

121 Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Transitional Justice Section, Herat Province 
(Kabul: 2003). 


H. Attacks on Civilian Targets and Acts of Terrorism 

7.80 In both 1989 and 1990, Special Rapporteur Felix Ermacora reported an 
increase in both acts of terrorism and attacks on civilian targets by the "armed 

(a) "The Special Rapporteur was told by different sources that a 
significant increase in the number of acts of terrorism against the population 
inside the country had occurred in September, October and mid-November 
1988. Government authorities, for their part, provided the Special 
Representative with figures of casualties which they consider to be the result 
of acts imputed to opposition forces, as follows: 3,954 dead, including 1,165 
civilians, and 5,201 injured, including 2,027 civilians." 122 

(b) "There appears to be an increase in civilian targets, which is contrary 
to humanitarian law. Government forces [in 1990] endeavour to hit mainly 
military goals, whereas the opposition forces seem to fire indiscriminately as 
well as committing acts of terrorism as defined by the First Additional 
Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. The shelling of cities and public places 
such as markets, bus stations, mosques and schools has caused the death of 
more than 1,000 civilians since September 1989 [in a document dated January 
31, 1990]. Other forms of terrorism have been reported, such as assassinations 
or the abuse of women and children." 123 

(c) "In two previous reports to the General Assembly, the Special 
Rapporteur has dealt with acts of terrorism (A/43/742, paras. 1 18 to 121, and 
A/44/669, para. 88). The concept of acts of terrorism is clearly defined in the 
First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949. 
Previously such acts were attributed to forces intervening in Afghanistan, but 
they may now be attributed to opposition forces. Terrorist acts are perpetrated 
against personalities within the Afghan community or those serving a common 
cause. In this context the Afghan Government claims that, since 1 September 
1989 [document dated January 31, 1990], acts of terrorism in Kabul have 
caused the death of 1,137 persons, injured 2,729, and destroyed 401 houses, 
38 shops, 3 hotels, and 4 mosques." 124 

7.81 These acts of terrorism included both targeted killings of civilian regime 
figures outside the context of combat and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas. 
Human Rights Watch pointed out in 1987, "Like most guerrilla armies, the mujahedin 
have a practice of targeting government officials or persons supporting the 
government for assassination. The targeting of nonmilitary government officials or 
others is a violation of common article 3 of the Geneva Conventions." 125 

E/CN.4/1 989/24 para. 59. 
E/CN.4/1990/25.para. 10. 
E/CN.4/1 990/25 para. 72. 

Helsinki Watch and Asia Watch, By All Parties to the Conflict . 

page 198 

7.82 After the approval of NSDD 166, the CIA allegedly supplied many "dual use" 
weapons systems, meaning weapons that could be used against legitimate military 
targets but also could be employed in terrorism or assassination. According to 
Stephen Coil's research: 

"These included the new electronic detonators, the malleable plastic 
explosives, and sniper rifle packages. The rough rule at Langley [CIA 
headquarters] was that the CIA would not supply any weapon where 'its most 
likely use would be for assassination or criminal enterprise,' as one official put 
it. Since the CIA was not running the commando operations itself but was 
relying on Pakistani intelligence, 'most likely use' could only be 
approximated." 126 

7.83 Especially after the adoption of NSDD 166, the CIA and ISI reportedly placed 
greater pressure on the mujahidin to attack regime strongholds, often using 
indiscriminate means. 127 After the Soviet withdrawal, the CIA and ISI were reported 
to assume even greater operational control of mujahidin activities in order to enable 
them to take control of government-controlled cities. 

7.84 Steve Coll reports: 

"In his speeches to Afghan commanders and trainees, the ISI chief [Gen. 
Akhtar Abdul Rahman] repeatedly emphasized the need to put pressure on the 
Soviets and the Afghan communists in and around the capital. 'Kabul must 
burn!' Akhtar declared." 128 

7.85 During 1989-1991, the CIA and ISI reportedly assumed control of 
indiscriminate attacks on cities, including Jalalabad, Kabul, and Qandahar. The UN 
Special Rapporteur, in his 1988 report to the General Assembly, characterized the 
type of military tactics that the US and Pakistan were then pressing upon the 
mujahidin as acts of terrorism as defined by the First Optional Protocol of the Geneva 
Conventions. 129 

7.86 Some mujahidin representatives interviewed by Human Rights Watch denied 
that they were under pressure to launch attacks against the cities, arguing instead that 
if they did not rocket the cities it would amount to a de facto cease-fire. 130 They also 
contended that the rocketing was a means of keeping up pressure on the 
government. 131 Other Human Rights Watch sources stated that since early 1989 the 
ISI had increased pressure on commanders to undertake attacks and supplied 

126 Coll, Ghost Wars 135-136. 

127 Coll, Ghost Wars 125-128. 

128 Coll, Ghost Wars 103, quoting a classified US diplomatic cable. 

129 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of 
Human Rights in Afghanistan" A/43/742, 1988) para. 122. 

130 This account, from this point until the start of the section headed "Reprisals, Extra- Judicial 
Executions, Rape, and Trafficking of Women," is reproduced nearly verbatim, with notes, from Asia 
Watch, The Forgotten War 42-5 1 . Some verb tenses have been changed. A few points that have been 
added are specified as such. 

Mohammad Eshaq, personal interview, Peshawar, July 7, 1990. 


payments for attacks — a system which one source described as "mercenary 
warfare." 132 Payments for attacks reported amounted to Rs. 20,000 (U.S. $1,000) per 
attack; the nearer to Kabul the commander fired, the greater the payment. 133 In 
Peshawar, Human Rights Watch examined reports submitted by commanders to ISI 
officials in which they acknowledged receipt of such payments. Human Rights Watch 
obtained a photocopy of one report dated May 11, 1990, which had been submitted to 
ISI officials by Amir Sayyid Ahmad, a commander allied with Sayyaf from Deh Sabz 
district east of Kabul, where villagers had witnessed the executions on Polygon Field 
in 1978-79 and been bombarded heavily in late 1979 or early 1980. 134 In this report, 
Sayyid Ahmad described a two-hour attack on Kabul in which 14 Sakr-20 rockets 
were fired and "35 communists" killed. 


7.87 Following the completion of the withdrawal of the Soviet forces from 
Afghanistan in February 1989, a number of mujahidin commanders launched a series 
of offensives against government forces that included the indiscriminate rocketing of 
government-controlled cities. The first target of the offensive was Jalalabad, which 
came under siege by resistance forces from March to May 1989. Journalists who 
visited the city reported widespread destruction of civilian objects: 

"Large sections have been bombarded and abandoned, while others, especially 
the mud-walled sections of the old town, have been shattered by the 
unrelenting rocket and artillery attacks of rebels . . . some streets have hardly 
any homes that have not been hit by rockets or shells . . . The city's main high 
school, its university, its courthouse, its prison, at least two hospitals, and 
several major government buildings appeared to have been so badly damaged 
as to be unusable." 135 

7.88 US officials played down reports of devastation to residential areas. In 
testimony before the House Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs on June 14, 
1989, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Near East and South Asian Affairs 
Edward W. Gnehm stated, "It is our firm belief that most of the insurgent groups have 
specifically avoided targeting the civilian areas, and . . . that destruction is not nearly 
as large-scale as had been feared." 136 According to Afghan government sources, 
however, 500 civilians were killed and more than 2,000 injured in rocket attacks and 
shelling of Jalalabad in the two months after the offensive began in early March 
1989. 137 

132 Former Afghan diplomat, personal interview, Peshawar, February 11, 1989. 

133 Afghan journalist in Peshawar, personal interview, July 10, 1990. Another Afghan exile told Asia 
Watch that payments could run as high as Rs. 500,000 (U.S. 25,000); Afghan exile in Washington, 
D.C., personal interview, January 21, 1991. 

134 See Chapter Three. 

135 John Burns, "Inside Jalalabad: A Sad Crumbling Shell," New York Times . May 11, 1989. 

136 Hearings 74. 

137 Burns, "Inside Jalalabad"; Mark Fineman, "Jalalabad Devastated but Quiet," Washington Post . May 

page 200 


7.89 In the first nine months after the Soviet withdrawal in February 1989, Western 
aid experts based in Kabul reported that at least six hundred people died in guerrilla 
rocket attacks on Kabul, over ninety percent of them civilians. 138 Western relief 
agencies estimated that at the end of 1989, one thousand civilians had died in rocket 
attacks on Kabul alone. 139 In an interview published in the Washington Post in July 
1989, Jean- Jacques Fresard, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross 
mission in Kabul at the time, stated that ninety-nine percent of those killed in the 
rocket attacks had been civilians. 140 

7.90 After the siege of Jalalabad, resistance commanders reportedly continued to 
fire rockets and surface-to-surface missiles into government-controlled cities, 
particularly Kabul, despite the high civilian casualties caused by these attacks in 
relation to the importance of the military targets. The mujahidin also used mortars in 
these attacks. These mortars reportedly required daily adjustment to be accurate; 
failure on the part of the guerrillas to do so may explain some of the high civilian 
casualties. 141 

7.91 Most of the civilian casualties in Kabul were caused by indiscriminately 
deployed rockets. The Sakr rocket that was used most extensively disintegrated into 
high-velocity shrapnel hurled from the site of impact at a sixty-degree angle. 142 In the 
course of the Human Rights Watch mission in late July and early August 1990, they 
reported that some twelve to twenty rockets struck Kabul every day. Human Rights 
Watch representatives visited the sites of several rocket explosions in Kabul in July 
1990 and reported on the resulting casualties. 

7.92 The other kinds of Sakr rockets which were fired into Kabul were the M42 and 
M46, which had a range of between twenty and thirty kilometers and delivered 
between forty-two and ninety-eight antipersonnel bomblets that were packed inside 
each other in rows in the nose cone of the rocket. 143 In mid- 1989, approximately 
twenty-five percent of the rockets fired into Kabul were of this kind; thereafter the 
rocket was used far less frequently. 144 

138 John Burns, "Don't Give Rockets to Rebels, Kabul Tells U.S.," New York Times . November 29, 

139 John Burns, "Now They Blame America," New York Times Magazine . February 4, 1990, p. 24. 

140 James Rupert, "Afghans Prepare for Summer Offensives," Washington Post . July 13, 1989. 

141 Representatives of international relief agencies in Kabul, personal interview July 22, 1990. 

142 Experts at the HALO Trust, a British mine clearing organization in Kabul, personal interview, July 

143 Because of the rocket's "cluster" delivery system, the rocket is sometimes described as a "cluster 
bomb." Experts in Kabul told Asia Watch that the precise number of bomblets varies, making it 
difficult for explosives experts trying to clear them to know how many of these bomblets they must 

144 According to experts at the HALO Trust, these rockets accounted for twenty-five percent of the 
rockets fired between June and August 1989; they accounted for one in fifty during the same months in 
1990. De-mining experts described the M42 and M46 as the "worst thing used here now." Personal 
interview in Kabul, July 27, 1990. 


7.93 The bomblets had a lethal range of fifteen meters. According to munitions 
experts, seventy percent of them exploded on impact and the rest remained active on 
the ground. The bomblets were light in weight and were attached to a loop of tape 
that allowed some of them to become snared in the branches and to fall to the ground 
later when dislodged by wind. After rains, the bomblets might also sink into the 
ground. 145 

7.94 The Sakr was also a "blind" rocket and could not be aimed accurately. The 
laws of war specifically prohibit the use of weapons "which employ a method or 
means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective." The Land 
Mines Protocol further prohibits the use of remotely-delivered mines 146 except in the 
following situations: 

(a) When mines are only used within an area which is itself a military 
objective or which contains military objectives; 

(b) When their location can be accurately recorded, or when an effective 
self-destructing mechanism is used on each such mine when the mines no 
longer serve a military purpose; 

(c) When the civilian population is given advance warning of the delivery 
of such mines, unless circumstances do not permit. 147 

7.95 In the vast majority of cases, the rockets fired into Kabul and other cities did 
not strike military targets or areas that contained them. 148 The bomblets that were 
scattered by the Sakr rockets contained no self-destruct mechanism, nor was the 
civilian population forewarned of these attacks. 

7.96 In early October 1990, a number of resistance commanders, reportedly under 
the direction of the ISI, undertook a major offensive against Kabul. 149 The rocketing 
of the city intensified during this period, and civilian casualties rose proportionately. 
In its October 1990 newsletter, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 
reported that rocketing caused heavy casualties not only inside the city, but in Mir 

145 HALO Trust, personal interview, July 27, 1990. 

146 The Land Mines Protocol defines a "mine" as "any munition placed under, on or near the ground or 
other surface area and designed to be detonated or exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a 
person or vehicle." A "remotely-delivered mine" is "any mine so defined delivered by artillery, rocket, 
mortar or similar means or dropped from an aircraft." Land Mines Protocol Article 2(1). 

147 Land Mines Protocol Article 5. 

148 Areas that may contain military objectives but also contain largely civilian populations do not 
constitute a legitimate military objective because the rule of proportionality prohibits attacks in which 
the civilian casualties outweigh the military importance of the objective. 

149 New note not in Asia Watch, The Forgotten War : [The offensive could have been much worse. In 
October 1990, the ISI loaded seven hundred trucks with forty thousand long-range missiles to support 
an all-out attack on Kabul by Hikmatyar that commander Amin Wardak estimated would cause 
"perhaps 200-300 thousand casualties." The US, alerted to this effort by Massoud, Abdul Haq, Amin 
Wardak, and other unilaterally supplied commanders who opposed it, managed to halt this effort. The 
State Department suspected that the CIA had secretly collaborated with the ISI in the preparations. See 
Rubin. Fragmentation : Coll. Ghost Wars 218-219.] 

page 202 

Bacha Kot, in mujahidin-controlled territory forty kilometers north of Kabul. 5 The 
report described some of the patients received by its hospital on October 18: 

"The new patients, most of them civilian and none older than 22, lie moaning 
on stretchers. . . . One of them is a very young man bleeding heavily from 
serious abdominal and leg injuries. He dies on the operating table. Another is 
a four-year-old girl who has a shrapnel wound to her brain. . . . The number of 
patients in the hospital soars to an alarming 228 as rockets continue to fall on 
the city and fighting goes on in the outlying areas." 151 

7.97 Relief workers and members of the diplomatic community that Human Rights 
Watch interviewed in Kabul in July and August 1990 confirmed that civilian 
casualties from the attacks remained very high. The UN Special Rapporteur on 
Afghanistan, Felix Ermacora, stated in his October 1990 report that official sources in 
Kabul have stated that 4,771 civilians were killed and 1 1,756 were wounded as a 
result of rocket attacks on Kabul between March and October 1990. 152 In December 
1990, the ICRC reported that about fifty percent of the wounded treated at its surgical 
hospital in Kabul were women and children under fourteen years of age who had been 
wounded in rocket attacks. 153 

7.98 The following list of rocket attacks represents only a handful of the incidents 
in which civilians were killed in Kabul. The information here was all derived from 
non-governmental sources: 

(a) On August 16, 1990, a rocket struck the compound of the ICRC 
orthopedic center, killing two patients and wounding an ICRC employee and 
twelve other patients, three seriously. 154 

(b) On July 30, 1990, the daughter of an Afghan employee of the UN 
Development Program was killed in a rocket attack as she was walking home 
from school. 155 

(c) On April 12, 1990, twelve children and two adults were killed when a 
rocket exploded at a bus stop. 156 

(d) On November 26, 1989, a Sakr-30 exploded in the center of Kabul, 
killing twenty-five people, including traders in a bazaar, patients outside a 

150 The fact that the rockets landed in opposition-held territory may indicate the degree to which the 
rockets were inaccurate. There was fighting between government forces and mujahidin around Kabul 
at the time, but it was not possible to state with certainty whether the rockets were aimed at any 
military targets. 

151 ICRC Bulletin . No. 177, October 1990. 

152 A/45/664 (1990) para. 87. 

153 ICRC Bulletin . No. 179, December 1990. 

154 ICRC Bulletin, No. 176, September 1990. 

155 Asia Watch learned of the incident that day during an interview with Ross Mountain, who was then 
resident representative of UNDP in Kabul. 

156 "Afghan Rebel Attack Kills 14," New York Times . April 13, 1990. 


clinic, and laborers. A second rocket exploded at a primary school, killing 
thirteen schoolboys. 157 

(e) On October 28-29, 1989, rockets exploded in residential areas, killing 
sixteen people. 158 

(f) On August 6, 1989, rockets exploded in a vegetable market and a 
residential neighborhood, killing ten people. 159 

(g) On July 31, 1989, rockets exploded at a bus stop and an auto repair 
shop, killing twenty-one people. 160 

(h) On July 22, 1989, rockets exploded in a bazaar, in an alley beside a 
mosque, and at the Ministry of Planning building, killing more than twenty- 
two people. 161 


7.99 Human Rights Watch interviewed a doctor who had worked at the civilian 
hospital in Qandahar through 1989 and reported that, as a result of mujahidin attacks 
on the city, civilian casualties inside the city had increased in late 1989-90 to the 
point that they were greater than in areas of fighting outside the city. 162 Meanwhile, 
mujahidin attacks on Qandahar also intensified, and by mid- 1990, 50 to 150 missiles 
and mortars landed on the city nearly every other day, with casualties averaging forty 
a week. 163 The mujahidin commanders responsible for the attacks belonged primarily 
to Hizb-i Island and Abdul Rabb al-Rasul Sayyaf s Ittihad. 164 According to a 
Qandahar resident, "When the rocketing picks up, we know Hikmatyar or Sayyaf is 
inspecting the troops." 165 

7. 100 Commanders in the Qandahar area interviewed by Human Rights Watch 
argued that they aimed at military cantonments and government buildings. According 
to a Qandahar resident, these military targets were surrounded by civilian areas. 

157 John Bums, "Don't Give Rockets to Rebels, Kabul Tells U.S.," November 29, 1990. 

158 "Guerrilla Rockets Pound Kabul," Washington Post . October 29, 1989; "Kabul Rocketed for Second 
Day," Washington Post . October 30, 1989. 

159 "Shelling in Kabul," Washington Post . August 8, 1989. 

160 "Guerrilla Rockets Kill 21 in Afghan Capital," Washington Post . August 1, 1989. 

161 John Burns, "20 Die as Rocket Hits a Kabul Bazaar," New York Times . July 23, 1989. 

162 p rev i ous iy ; high civilian casualties were the result of government bombardments of mujahidin 
strongholds. Since early 1989, the governor reportedly ordered a halt to such operations and has not 
responded to the mujahidin attacks. Doctor from Qandahar, personal interview, Quetta, Pakistan, July 
7, 1990. 

163 Doctor from Qandahar, personal interview, Quetta, Pakistan, July 7, 1990. 

164 Afghan relief worker, personal interview, Quetta, Pakistan, July 7, 1990. 

165 Afghan relief worker, personal interview, Quetta, Pakistan, July 7, 1990. 

page 204 

Westerners working for relief agencies said that much of the civilian hospital had 
been destroyed by the shelling. 166 

7.101 When asked why they were shelling civilian areas, some commanders 
responded that the civilians "should leave." 167 A commander in the Qandahar area 
also said civilians were warned beforehand of planned attacks. 168 Other Qandahar 
sources, however, reported that they had no knowledge in advance of the attacks. 169 
One Afghan relief worker told Human Rights Watch that some commanders used to 
send letters into the cities warning people of planned attacks, but that they no longer 
did so. 170 Even if such warnings were provided, however, the weapons used in the 
attacks were reportedly so inaccurate that damage to civilian objects would be almost 

I. Reprisals, Extra- Judicial Executions, Rape, and Trafficking of Women 

7.102 In 1989 Professor Ermacora reported: 

(a) "There are numerous allegations, some of them supported by films and 
photos, of atrocities committed by opposition movements in Kunduz, Kunar 
and parts of the Nangarhar province against Afghan soldiers, civil servants and 
their families." 171 

(b) "In the beginning of January 1989, after the fall of the Khewa [Shewa] 
district in the province of Nangarhar, about 22 women were allegedly killed 
and some Afghan soldiers had their throats slit by forces belonging to the 
opposition movements." 172 

7. 103 A summary of the records of the Kunduz regional office of the Afghan 
Independent Human Rights Commission states: 

"During year 1367 (1988), the provincial center of Kunduz, which was under 
the control of Communist regime, was taken over by mujahidin groups for ten 
days. During these days the city was looted by armed groups. Then this 
province again was taken over by communist regime." 173 

7. 104 Other reports speak of rapes and killings of civilians at that time. Human 
Rights Watch reported about a number of these incidents in a report published in 
February 1989: 

166 International relief agency representatives in Quetta, personal interview July 8, 1990. 

167 Afghan doctor from Qandahar, personal interview, Quetta, Pakistan July 7, 1990. 

168 Commander Mullah Malang (HIK), personal interview Quetta, July 7, 1990. 

169 Afghan doctor from Qandahar, personal interview, Quetta, July 7, 1990. 

170 Afghan relief worker, personal interview, Quetta, July 7, 1990. 

171 E/CN.4/1 989/24 para. 72. 

172 E/CN.4/1 989/24 para. 55. 

173 Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Transitional Justice Section, Kunduz Province 
(Kabul: 2003). 


"Commanders and many other sources either in or close to the resistance 
described instances of looting, burning, and arbitrary killing by 
"undisciplined" elements among the mujahidin. They also reported such 
behavior as a matter of principle on the part of some Wahhabi and other 
groups, who adhere to the doctrine of 'maftuhat' (rights of conquest), 
according to which inhabitants of a non-Islamic area [dar al-harb] are the 
booty of its Muslim conquerors. (Most Afghan Muslims who spoke to Asia 
Watch rejected this doctrine and claimed it had been imported by Arab 
Wahhabis.) Such incidents have occurred in Kunduz city [indiscipline, not 
"Wahhabis"], Asadabad (also known as Chaghasarai), the provincial center of 
Kunar; Shinwari and Bara Mohmand districts of Nangarhar Province; and 
Shewa (Khewa in the local dialect) district of Kunar, where on January 13-14 
[1989], a group which included Wahhabi Arab volunteers killed much of the 
population of a government-controlled village named Kuna Deh and raped an 
estimated 40 women." 174 

7. 105 Professor Ermacora echoed these reports, referring to these incidents in both 
1989 and 1990: 

(a) "The Special Rapporteur also heard allegations from a variety of 
sources concerning the ill-treatment of captured civilians, in particular women, 
during the battle for Jalalabad. It was alleged that captured persons have been 
slaughtered in the most cruel way and women taken abroad as prisoners and 
hostages." 175 

(b) "Allegations have repeatedly been made that foreigners have joined the 
ranks of the armed forces of the opposition movements in Kunar province. It 
is reported that their behaviour does not conform to the customs prevailing in 
the region and that they have committed atrocities, particularly with regard to 
women. Representatives of the so-called Afghan Interim Government 
dissociate themselves from such acts." 176 

7. 106 Commenting on these reports, "The Special Rapporteur expressed 
astonishment at the lack of complete investigation into these serious allegations." 177 

174 Asia Watch, "Policies of the Pakistani Military." Shewa is actually in Nangarhar, not Kunar. 

175 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of 
Human Rights in Afghanistan" (A/44/669, 1989) para. 87. 

176 A/45/664 (1990) para. 84. 

177 E/CN.4/1 990/25 para. 74. 

page 206 

AND THE UNITED FRONT, 1996-1998 1 

A. Political Developments 1992-1998 

Negotiations toward a Settlement and the Collapse of the Najibullah 

8.1 Efforts by the US and USSR to find an acceptable formula for a transitional 
government in Afghanistan following the Soviet withdrawal repeatedly ended in 
failure. The US and Pakistan insisted that Najibullah had to leave at the start of any 
transition, while the USSR held that he should preside over the transition, at the end 
of which he could leave. Finally, power shifts within the Soviet Union and its 
ultimate dissolution in December 1991 paved the way for the US and the Soviet 
Union (Russia, after the USSR was dissolved) to agree to cease military aid to their 
respective clients. That decision, effective January 1, 1992, injected new urgency into 
the search for an interim government to succeed Najibullah. But the end of military 
assistance from the former Soviet Union also acted as a catalyst for events on the 
ground. While the UN envoy, Benon Sevan, was engaged in protracted negotiations 
with the Afghan parties, the mujahidin parties and former militia forces were 
positioning themselves to fill the anticipated power vacuum. 2 

8.2 Najibullah's supplies from the Soviet Union reportedly reached him through 
areas in the north controlled primarily by the Uzbek militia forces of Gen. Abdul 
Rashid Dostum. Dostum allegedly routinely confiscated weaponry and received cash 
payments though an inflated payroll in exchange for his cooperation with the regime. 
This arrangement ended with the termination of Soviet military aid. 3 When 
Najibullah lost control of his supply line and his source of cash to pay the militias, he 
was faced with the rebellion of the most powerful of the militias, Dostum's Jawzjanis, 
and his hold on power quickly unraveled. 4 Other militias soon followed: the Ismailis, 
led by Sayyid-i Kayan; the Pahlawans, Uzbeks of Faryab; and other local 
commanders. 5 

8.3 In January, the UN launched an effort to obtain lists of candidates from all 
Afghan parties (the mujahidin, former king Zahir Shah, and Najibullah) for a 
committee that would then convene an assembly (jalsa) to choose an interim 
government. Not all mujahidin parties submitted lists, however, nor did the former 

1 The Islamic State of Afghanistan, hereafter referred to by the initials ISA, continued to exist legally 
even after the Taliban took control of Kabul on September 26, 1996, as well as after the Taliban named 
their government the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 1997. The various groups fighting against the 
Taliban under the rubric of the ISA or the alliances called successively the Northern Alliance and the 
Islamic United Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (Jabha-i Muttahid-i Islami bara-yi Nijat-i 
Afghanistan) continued to commit serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law in the 
territories under their control in northern Afghanistan. This chapter covers the period up to August 
1998, when the Taliban took control of most of the north of Afghanistan, greatly reducing the territory 
and population controlled by the ISA/UF. 

2 Barnett R. Rubin, The Fragmentation of Afghanistan: State Formation and Collapse in the 
International System (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002, first edition 1995) 1 12-115. 

3 Rubin, Fragmentation 267. 

4 Rubin, Fragmentation 267. 


king. Najibullah also refused until, under pressure, he submitted a list and agreed to 
announce his intention to resign. On March 18, 1992, he read a statement on 
television and radio, announcing that his resignation would take effect once the 
United Nations had established an interim government. 6 

8.4 The next day, the Northern Alliance (composed of Dostum's militia and other 
northern militias, Hizb-i Wahdat, and Massoud's Shura-i Nazar, among others) seized 
control of Mazar-i Sharif. 5 Massoud took control of the airfields at Bagram and 
Charikar north of Kabul, and Parchami rebels (under the command of Babrak 
Karmal's brother, Mahmud Baryalai) took control of Kabul airport. Last-minute 
efforts to cobble together an interim agreement failed as movements by armed forces 
on the ground swiftly overtook all negotiations. On April 16, Parchami forces at the 
airport prevented Najibullah from leaving the country, as had been arranged by UN 
negotiator Sevan. 6 Najibullah took refuge in the UN compound in Kabul. 

8.5 Meanwhile, the ISI, which had helped to bring Tanai and Hikmatyar together 
in 1990, was reportedly readying them for an advance on Kabul. Hikmatyar had also 
enlisted a number of Arab recruits. 7 Fearing that the Northern Alliance would move 
on Kabul first, Khalqi Pashtuns and Hikmatyar, backed by Pakistan, arranged to 
infiltrate Hizb-i Island fighters into Kabul. Massoud preempted them by taking 
control of the Afghan army garrison and its communications as various units 
dissolved or defected to different sides. Massoud used the former government's air 
force helicopters to transport his senior officers and troops to the capital on April 25. 8 
Although the Northern Alliance forces took control of the major government 
institutions, other mujahidin fighters also entered the city, took control of various 
neighborhoods, and commandeered vehicles and fuel. Hikmatyar's forces held 
portions of the presidential compound and the interior ministry. The Northern 
Alliance controlled the airport, the main city armory, the capital's largest military 
base, the central bank, and the nationalized radio and television facilities. 9 According 
to a number of reports (quoted in more detail below), some troops carried out 
summary executions of persons associated with the former government. 

From the Peshawar Accords to the Shura Ahl-i Hal wa Aqd 

8.6 While the scramble for power unfolded in Kabul and elsewhere in the country, 
on April 26 most of the party leaders in Pakistan announced that they had reached 
agreement. The Peshawar Accords spelled out an interim arrangement in which 
Sebghatullah Mojaddedi would become president for two months, to be followed by 
Burhanuddin Rabbani, the head of Jamiat-i Islami, for four. After that the 

5 Barnett R. Rubin, The Search for Peace in Afghanistan: From Buffer State to Failed State (New 
Haven: Yale University Press, 1995) 128-129. 

6 Rubin, Fragmentation 269-271 . 

7 Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA. Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet 
Invasion to September 10. 2001 (New York: Penguin Press, 2004) 227. 

8 James Rupert, "Massoud: 'Go With Faith in God'; Commander Shows No Joy as He Orders His 
Guerrillas into Kabul," Washington Post . April 26, 1992; Rubin, Fragmentation 271. 

9 Coll, Ghost Wars : William Branigin, "Afghanistan's Capital Falls to Muslim Rebels; Rival Groups 
Seize Key Installations In Hurried, Tense Takeover of Kabul," Washington Post . April 26, 1992. 

page 208 

government would convene a council (shura) to choose an interim government that 
would govern for eighteen months until elections could be held. Under the Accords, 
the acting president was accountable to a leadership council made up of leaders of the 
seven Sunni parties. The Shi 'a parties and Junbish-i Milli-yi Islami (National Islamic 
Movement of Afghanistan, the new party formed by the northern militias led by 
Dostum) were excluded. Massoud became minister of defense, but the "army" he 
commanded had been formed under the SCN umbrella; there was no real national 
army. 10 

8.7 Resistance to the new agreement began almost immediately, beginning with 
attacks from Hizb-i Islami, who, having failed to take control of Kabul before 
Massoud did, now rejected any arrangement in which Massoud played a dominant 
role. Hikmatyar did, however, name Abdul Sabur Farid (a Shamali commander who 
reportedly had hijacked a UN aid convoys to Panjshir from Kabul in 1988) as prime 
minister. The allied parties that supported the agreement did so with caution, each 
with an eye to augmenting its own power and access to resources. With Dostum's 
base outside Kabul in the north, Hizb-i Wahdat, the militia that controlled much of 
west Kabul, was particularly wary; Hazaras made up at least a quarter of Kabul's 
population, and Wahdat leaders protested that they had not been part of the 
negotiations, were not represented on the leadership council, and had not received a 
sufficient number of ministerial positions. 11 

8.8 Outside Kabul, the political situation varied. Some of the regional centers 
were more coherent, and nowhere was there as much fighting as in Kabul. But the 
country became even more fragmented, as each region and sub-region came under a 
different de facto authority. Commanders, some of whom were affiliated with more 
than one party (including the same parties fighting for power in Kabul), took control 
of strategic roads and other installations. In the Pashtun areas, party affiliation had to 
compete with tribal allegiance. According to a report by the Special Rapporteur, in 
1992 there were forty-two checkpoints on the 150-kilometer road between Kabul and 
Jalalabad. A man who was stopped at a checkpoint outside Kabul on the road to Pul-i 
Charkhi was told by a field commander, "This is a different kingdom." 12 

8.9 In some places, local shuras occupied the area garrison, the wilayat 
(governorate, or provincial administration), the checkpoints, the airports, and the main 
bazaars. In Nangarhar province, the Jalalabad garrison was taken over by a coalition 
of local commanders from different parties, drawn from different Pashtun tribes and 
other ethnic groups. In the south, the Qandahar garrison was taken over by a council 
of commanders and elders drawn from different tribes and parties, with the tribes 
relatively stronger than the parties. Abdul Ahad Karzai was the shura's spokesman. 
In the west, the Herat garrison was taken over by the mujahidin forces of Ismail Khan, 
a former army captain who called himself the Amir of Herat and became the main 
power in western Afghanistan. A member of the Jamiat-i Islami, he was allied to 
Rabbani. In the north, (Mazar-i Sharif, Balkh) the Uzbek militia commander Abdul 
Rashid Dostum had the largest military force and his own main fortress in Shibirghan, 

10 Rubin, Fragmentation . 271-272. 

11 "Afghan Militia Fails to Stop Street Fighting by Factions," New York Times . June 6, 1992. 

12 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 993/42) para. 27. 


center of the neighboring province of Samangan. Until 1994, part of the area was also 
controlled by Muhammad Atta, a Tajik commander of Jamiat, allied with Massoud. 
Hizb-i Wahdat's commander in the north was Ayatullah Muhammad Muhaqqiq. 
Despite tensions among the three parties, the city of Mazar remained relatively 
peaceful until fighting broke out between Jamiat and Junbish in 1994. In 1997, a 
revolt within Junbish weakened Dostum and led to a realignment of factional power in 
the region and greater instability. 13 

8.10 Before President-designate Mojaddedi could arrive in Kabul from Peshawar 
on April 27, battles had already broken out between Hizb-i Island forces and troops of 
the Northern Alliance, principally Junbish and Shura-i Nazar, who succeeded in 
pushing Hikmatyar's forces out of the presidential palace to the southern suburbs 
(Chehlsetun and Charasyab). On April 28, the new president proclaimed the Islamic 
State of Afghanistan (ISA), while the forces allied with Massoud bombed areas under 
Hikmatyar's control in the southern outskirts of Kabul, a position Hizb-i Island 
maintained until 1995. 14 Hikmatyar demanded that the ISA oust Dostum's forces (the 
largest military force in Kabul) on the grounds that Dostum had been a communist. 15 
In fact, his target was Massoud, and for the next three years Hizb-i Island continued to 
bombard Kabul with rockets. Between May and August 1992, thousands of rockets 
hit the city, reportedly killing tens if thousands of people, the vast majority of whom 
were civilians, according to humanitarian agencies operating in the city. (See below.) 
During this time, Hikmatyar was still partly operating from Pakistan, with his base in 
Shamshattu and with ISI and the support of the Arab Salafi jihadists, who are now 
known as al-Qaida. 

8.11 In June 1992, conflict broke out between Sayyaf s Ittihad-i Island, 
headquartered in Paghman, west of Kabul, and Hizb-i Wahdat. Sayyaf viewed the 
Shi 'as as rivals for control of west Kabul, and sympathized with, if not supported, the 
Wahhabi view that Shi 'a are deviants from genuine Islam. His own headquarters lay 
in the western suburb of Paghman, his birthplace. According to human rights reports 
quoted below, both Ittihad and Wahdat forces abducted, "disappeared," and 
summarily executed civilians in street battles, sometimes in particularly brutal ways. 
The struggle in west Kabul was also the first instance in the war in which rape was 
used on a mass scale. Both parties finally agreed to a cease-fire after Dostum sent in 
reinforcements. The two parties released hundreds of prisoners, many of whom 
described being tortured (see below). 16 Skirmishes between the two parties continued, 

13 Analyses of these events can be found in various histories of the period. The fighting had its origins 
in a combination of personal and tribal rivalries, as well as machinations by the ISI, Iran, and 
Uzbekistan. Email communication with Rubin, July 2004. 

14 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Political Crisis and the Refugees . ASA 1 1/01/1993 (London: 

15 Hikmatyar himself had allied with disgruntled Khalqi Tanai in an abortive coup attempt against 
Najibullah in March 1990. In his efforts to enter Kabul before Massoud, he also had the support of 
Khalqi Pashtuns. 

16 Interviews with Human Rights Watch, June-July 2004. 

page 210 

8.12 By mid- June 1992, President Mojaddedi was mustering support for prolonging 
his term of office, but he ultimately abandoned the effort under pressure and stepped 
down. 17 Jamiat leader Burhanuddin Rabbani assumed office, becoming president of a 
city at war. Kabul had become divided along largely ethnic lines, although over the 
course of the next few years alliances among the ethno-political parties shifted. 
Rabbani's writ extended only to the parts of Kabul under the control of the forces 
allied with Massoud, and was limited even in those areas. 

8.13 In August, Hikmatyar intensified his rocket attacks on the city. Following the 
attacks the government excluded Hizb-i Island from the leadership council and 
ordered the expulsion of Prime Minister Abdul Sabur Farid of Hizb-i Island. 

8.14 Rabbani's term expired in October, but he postponed convening a shura to 
select an interim government (as stipulated in the Peshawar Accords) on the grounds 
that the situation in the country was too unstable. The leadership council extended his 
term for forty-five days, but in early December Rabbani stalled, again citing the lack 
of security. However valid the concern about security, the move confirmed 
suspicions among the other parties that Rabbani was determined to hold on to the 
presidency. This was reinforced by Massoud's attempts to exercise sole military 
control of Kabul. 18 On December 9, Dostum moved troops into Kabul, took control of 
the airport, overran Microraion (an apartment complex near the airport controlled by 
Shura-i Nazar forces), drove Shura-i Nazar forces from some of the ministries they 
controlled, and bombed the presidential palace. 19 The Junbish forces reportedly 
looted apartments in Microraion along the way. Wahdat joined the fighting, forcing 
Massoud to fight in the west as well as the east. Exchanges of mortar fire, anti-tank 
rockets, and small arms fire among the respective areas of control left scores dead and 
more than three hundred wounded, according to hospital sources. 20 

8.15 Finally, On December 29 (about two weeks after his extended term had 
expired), Rabbani convened the Shura Ahl-i-Hal Wa Aqd, a council that was to elect a 
president for the following eighteen months. 21 Jamiat representatives dominated the 
proceedings; somewhat more than ten percent came from Dostum's party. 22 There 
were some other representatives from shuras in other parts of the country, but most of 
the mujahidin faction leaders boycotted. As expected, Rabbani was "elected" 
president for an eighteen-month term. By the end of 1992, the fighting that had begun 
with the fall of the Najibullah government had driven 75,000 residents of Kabul to 

17 During his brief term of office, President Mojaddedi proclaimed a general amnesty for all crimes 
committed during the previous fourteen years of conflict. Some Afghans believe that declaring this 
amnesty without any discussion or process of reconciliation or justice contributed to the undisciplined 
bloodletting that then took place. 

18 E/CN.4/1 993/42 para 52. 

19 "Afghan Leader, Sworn In, Appeals for Unity," New York Times . January 3, 1993. 

20 "Afghan Leader, Sworn In, Appeals for Unity," New York Times . January 3, 1993. 

21 Ahl means "people." Hal literally means "untying" and ' Aqd literally means "tying"; 
metaphorically, these words mean permitting and forbidding, so this is a council of the people 
authorized to permit and forbid. 

22 Rubin, Fragmentation 273. Some involved in arranging the shura complained that Jamiat was not 
solely to blame; they had few resources, and Pakistan actively subverted the process. Interview by 
Rubin with official involved in the process. 


become refugees in Pakistan. Another estimated 500,000 were internally displaced 
from Kabul. 23 

The Battle for West Kabul and the Afshar Massacre 

8.16 In December 1992 Wahdat leaders, bitter over their small representation in the 
government and fearful of Sayyaf and Massoud's determination to take control of 
west Kabul, reportedly began secret negotiations with Hikmatyar. Fighting between 
the new alliance and Massoud's forces began on January 19, 1993. 24 According to the 
Special Rapporteur, in January-February 1993, an estimated one thousand people 
were killed in the fighting, most of whom were civilian victims of indiscriminate or 
disproportionate artillery and rocket attacks by all parties. 25 

8.17 In February 1993, Massoud launched an assault on west Kabul that had two 
alleged objectives. The first was to capture the political and military headquarters of 
Hizb-i Wahdat, located in the Social Science Institute adjoining the neighborhood 
below the Afshar mountain in west Kabul, and capture Abdul Ali Mazari, the leader 
of Hizb-i Wahdat. The second objective was to oust Wahdat from that part of west 
Kabul linked to the areas controlled by Ittihad-i Island, thus assuring control over the 
area. 26 Wahdat' s base in western Kabul separated Massoud's forces in Shahr-i Naw 
from Sayyaf s in Paghman. Capturing western Kabul would link up the two base 
areas and create a consolidated rear with which to attack and defend against Hizb-i 
Island in the south as well as Junbish toward the east. 

8.18 The forces involved were primarily Ittihad-i Island and Shura-i Nazar. 
Massoud had direct control over Shura-i Nazar forces and indirect control over Ittihad 
forces. Ittihad units had Afghan Army formation numbers, but, as there was no 
national army, the commanders in the field took their orders from senior Ittihad 
commanders and Sayyaf himself. According to witnesses interviewed by the 
Afghanistan Justice Project, Sayyaf acted as the de facto general commander of 
Ittihad forces during the operation and was directly in touch with senior commanders 
by radio. 27 

Box 8.1. Jamiat-i Islami Commanders and Units Involved in Afshar Operation 

23 E/CN.4/1 993/42, para. 16. 

24 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past: The Legacy of War Crimes and the Political 
Transition in Afghanistan (October 2004) 11-12. 

25 E/CN.4/1 993/42 para. 16. 

26 Afghanistan Justice Project interviews with former commanders and intelligence operatives, 2003- 

27 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 27. According to the Afghanistan Justice 
Project, the top Jamiat commanders, selected senior Ittihad commanders (Shir Alam and Zalmai 
Tufan), the main Shi'a ally (Mas'ud Husain Anwari), and the ISA military advisors met under the 
chairmanship of Massoud at Corps headquarters in Badambagh two days before the operation. This 
was followed up by a meeting of the Ittihad commanders under the chairmanship of Ustad Sayyaf in 
Paghman one day before the operation. The purpose of these meetings was to instruct key commanders 
on their role in the ground offensive. 

page 212 

Muhammad Qasim Fahim, Director of Intelligence, with responsibility for special planning of the 
operation. Currently he is Minister of Defense of Afghanistan. 

Anwar Dangar, commander of a division-level unit of mujahidin, from Shikardara, of Shamali (named 
by numerous witnesses as leading troops in Afshar that carried out abuses during the first two days of the 
operation). Currently he is reported to be a commander of the Taliban insurgency. 

Mullah Izzat, commander of a division-level unit of mujahidin, from Paghman (named by numerous 
eyewitnesses as leading troops in Afshar that carried out abuses during the first two days of the 

Baba Jalandar, named as participating in planning of the operation. 

Haji Almas. Currently he commands a unit in Shamali and is part owner of the Shandiz Iranian 
restaurant in Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul. 

Gen. Kabir Andarabi. 

Gen. Baba Jan. Currently he is the police chief of Kabul City. 

Box 8.2. Ittihad-i Islami Commanders and Units Participating in the Afshar Operation 

Haji Shir Alam, Division Commander affiliated with Sayyaf, from Paghman, named by numerous 
eyewitnesses as leading troops in Afshahr during the first two days, when abuses were committed. 
Currently a commander of the 10 th Division, Kabul. 

Zalmai Tufan, commander of the Lewa (brigade) 597, named by numerous eyewitnesses as leading 
troops in Afshar during the first two days, when abuses were committed. Currently a commander of the 
10 th Division, Kabul. 

Dr. Abdullah, commander of a battalion-level unit (ghund) of Lewa 597, named by several witnesses as 
leading troops in Afshar during the first two days, when abuses were committed. (Not the same person as 
Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 2001-2004.) 

Abdullah Shah, named by several witnesses as leading troops in Afshar and being responsible for 
arbitrary arrests and abductions. Executed, 2003. See below. 

8.19 According to investigators for the Afghanistan Justice Project, Director of 
Intelligence Muhammad Qasim Fahim (Minister of Defense as of October 2004) 
contacted dissident Wahdat commanders and commanders of the other Shi'a party, 
Harakat-i Islami, around Afshar before the offensive was launched and obtained their 
commitment not to oppose the Ittihad and Shura-i Nazar forces. 28 According to the 
Afghanistan Justice Project, Massoud's forces had also pre -positioned substantial 
artillery in the surrounding area to target the west Kabul neighborhoods of the Social 
Science Institute (Wahdat headquarters), Central Silo, Afshar, Kart-i Seh, Kart-i Char, 
and Kart-i Sakhi. With the exception of the Social Science Institute, these areas were 
all primarily residential. The Afghanistan Justice Project notes that the amount of 
artillery deployed indicates that it was "the largest and most integrated use of military 
power undertaken by the ISA up to that time." 29 Shura-i Nazar and Ittihad forces 
began a generalized assault, with rockets and artillery on the night of February 10—11, 
1993 (Dalwa 21-22, 1371). Wahdat forces retreated by the afternoon of February 11, 
losing control of the Social Science Institute. The street-to-street search operation 
reportedly began after that and continued through the next day in the residential areas 

Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 28. 
Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 29. 


around Afshar. According to the AJP report, most of the abuses against civilians took 
place as part of this search. Some residents managed to flee with the departing 
Wahdat troops, but the majority of the Afshar civilian population remained until the 
bombardment and bulk of the fighting had ended. A mass exodus took place on the 
night of the February 1 1-12, with most residents fleeing to other parts of Kabul. By 
the end of the operation, Afshar was depopulated and under the control of Ittihad and 
Shura-i Nazar forces. 30 Estimates by human rights researchers and other analysts of 
the number of people killed — most of whom were civilians — reach into the hundreds. 
According to witnesses quoted below, many more disappeared after being taken 

The Dostum-Hikmatyar Alliance, the Mestiri Mission, and the Taliban 

8.20 In March 1993, following the intervention of Saudi King Fahd, most of the 
faction leaders agreed to a new interim arrangement, the Islamabad Accords, which 
was to summon an assembly to draft a constitution within eight months and hold 
elections within eighteen. Rabbani was to remain as president, but Hikmatyar was to 
become prime minister. No agreement was reached on the minister of defense; 
Hikmatyar vehemently opposed retaining Massoud in that position. Nevertheless, 
Massoud remained de facto defense minister, and Hikmatyar remained in his 
stronghold south of Kabul in Charasiab, from which his forces continued to rocket 
Kabul. By the end of 1993, Dostum, who had not been given any position in the 
national government nor won any concessions on de jure regional autonomy, entered 
into an alliance with Hikmatyar. 31 The new political-military alliance was called the 
Supreme Coordination Council of the Islamic Revolution of Afghanistan ( Shura-yi 
Hamahangi). The year 1994 reportedly saw some of the fiercest fighting in the battle 
for Kabul. On January 1, Dostum and Hikmatyar launched artillery and rocket attacks 
on areas controlled by Massoud' s forces, which responded with equal ferocity. 32 In 
February, Hikmatyar imposed a food blockade on Kabul, threatening to attack UN aid 
convoys headed to the capital. 33 

8.21 From the departure of Benon Sevan in 1992 until this time, there had been no 
UN political mission concerned with Afghanistan. In February 1994, UN Secretary- 
General Boutros Boutros-Ghali named former Tunisian Foreign Minister Mahmoud 
Mestiri as his special envoy, and over the next two months Mestiri met with a broad 
range of Afghans inside the country and elsewhere in an effort first to gain support 
within civil society for a peaceful settlement and then to gain agreement on a process 
from the faction leaders. In September-October, Mestiri convened a forty-member 
advisory council in Quetta that proposed that Rabbani hand over power to a council 
that would oversee disarmament and convene a Loya Jirga to decide on the next steps 
in the process. A neutral Afghan security force would take control of Kabul. 34 How 

30 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 30. 

31 Rubin, Fragmentation 274. 

32 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 994/53) para. 18, 19, 24. 

33 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: The Human Rights Crisis and the Refugees . ASA 1 1/02/1995 
(London: February 1995). 

34 Mestiri had made little progress with the faction leaders but found much more support for 

page 214 

disarmament would be carried out and where such a security force would come from 
remained unclear; while Rabbani, Hikmatyar, and other leaders accepted the proposal, 
their commitment to it was never tested. Once again, events on the ground moved 
faster than diplomacy. By late 1994, the Taliban had emerged as a serious military 
force, having taken control of Qandahar in October. In December 1994, Rabbani 
announced he would step down but once again reneged. 35 US diplomats joined the 
UN negotiator in pressing the faction leaders to accept the UN plan, but Rabbani and 
Massoud refused to relinquish power unless Hikmatyar was disarmed, and Hikmatyar 
refused to accept the agreement until Rabbani and Massoud vacated Kabul. 36 The 
stalemate continued for several months, with both sides continuing steady rocketing 
and shelling of their respective areas of control. 

8.22 Meanwhile, by February 1995, the Taliban had taken six provinces: Qandahar, 
Uruzgan, Zabul, Helmand, Wardak, and Ghazni, driving Hikmatyar' s forces from the 
last two. At that point they were only thirty-five kilometers from Kabul, and closer 
still to Hikmatyar's base at Charasyab. On February 13, 1995, Hikmatyar, reportedly 
concluding that Pakistan had shifted its support to the Taliban, abandoned his base 
and went to Sarobi, Laghman, leaving behind a considerable stockpile of weaponry 
for the Taliban to take. 37 

8.23 According to reports, Hikmatyar's departure provided Massoud with the 
opportunity he had long been waiting for — to drive Wahdat and Dostum's forces out 
of Kabul and thus gain overall control of the city. By this time the ISA included only 
Ittihad and Jamiat, having lost the support of the other parties who were part of the 
1993 agreement. 38 On March 6, 1995, Massoud reportedly launched a massive 
offensive against Wahdat, shelling and bombing Wahdat positions as well as 
residential civilian areas in west Kabul. 39 Pushed to the wall, Mazari entered into an 
agreement with the Taliban, who had occupied Charasiyab, adjoining Wahdat- 
controlled areas in southwest Kabul (Darulaman and Kart-i Seh), and offered no 
resistance as Taliban troops entered the southern suburbs of the city. Mazari also 
handed over weaponry to the Taliban, but these moves divided Wahdat forces. A 
splinter group headed by Mazari 's rival, Akbari, joined forces with Massoud to fight 
the Taliban. On March 1 1 , Massoud attacked the Taliban, driving them and the 
Wahdat forces that had sided with them out of Kabul. Rockets and artillery from both 
sides reportedly killed and injured scores of civilians. 40 According to reports quoted 

disarmament and movement toward a peace process from Afghans associated with former king Zahir 
Shah and independent Afghan moderates. Rubin, Search for Peace 137-138. 

35 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices: 1995 (Washington, D.C.: March 

36 Rubin, Search for Peace 141 . 

37 Anthony Davis, "How the Taliban Became a Military Force," in Fundamentalism Reborn? 
Afghanistan and the Taliban , ed. William Maley (London: C. Hurst & Co., 1998): 51-52. 

38 In March one of the coalition parties, Muhammad Nabi Muhammadi's Movement of the Islamic 
Revolution, resigned from the Government, leaving only two of the nine original political parties of the 
coalition government established in 1993. In 1995, the Kabul regime controlled only the capital and 
four or five of Afghanistan's thirty- two provinces. US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human 
Rights Practices: 1995 . 

39 These events are described in detail in Davis 56-59. 

40 Davis 56-59. 


in more detail below, as Massoud's forces moved through the former Wahdat 
strongholds of Kart-i Seh and other areas of west Kabul, they assaulted and raped 
residents and looted property. The retreating Taliban took Mazari with them; Mazari 
died under disputed circumstances while being transported to Qandahar by 
helicopter. 41 

8.24 Mestiri continued his efforts to secure agreement on a ceasefire and transfer of 
power. In March, following negotiations with Rabbani, Dostum, Ismail Khan, and the 
Taliban, the UN announced agreement on establishing a committee consisting of 
experienced Afghan military officers and commanders to form a national security 
force, and on establishing a council consisting of two representatives from each 
province plus an additional fifteen to twenty independent personalities to be chosen in 
consultation with the other parties. In September Mestiri sought a cease-fire 
agreement from the Taliban, Dostum, and the Rabbani government, to be followed by 
negotiations on a transfer of power. But neither the Taliban nor Dostum would agree 
to a cease-fire until Rabbani stepped down. Finally in November Rabbani agreed to 
step down if a representative council was established to assume power. Rabbani 
submitted a list of names of persons from his party for the council, to which Dostum 
added a number of his own. The Taliban did not respond. In December, rocketing 
and shelling resumed, and the negotiations were suspended. 42 

8.25 Following a May 1996 agreement with the government, Hikmatyar entered 
Kabul as prime minister. Rocket attacks by the Taliban intensified. But over the 
following months, the Taliban defeated Hikmatyar' s forces to the east of Kabul; some 
switched sides and joined the advancing forces. On September 11, 1996, Jalalabad 
came under Taliban control. On September 26, Massoud withdrew from the capital to 
Panjshir, and the Taliban took control of Kabul. 43 

The Battle for the North 

8.26 After Kabul fell to the Taliban, three parties that had fought each other for 
control of the city — SCN/Jamiat (Massoud), Junbish (Dostum), and Wahdat (now 
under Abdul Karim Khalili) — formed a new alliance to oppose the Taliban. For the 
first time, Massoud was in a position to shell Kabul from outside the city. According 
to the International Committee of the Red Cross, although Massoud apparently aimed 
for the airport, he frequently hit civilian areas in the north of the city. 44 The Taliban, 
meanwhile, advanced northeast from Herat toward Mazar-i Sharif. They also tried to 
push up Salang from Kabul but were repulsed. 

41 The circumstances surrounding Mazari' s death are not clear. By some accounts he was executed; 
others claim he was shot when he tried to take a gun from a Taliban soldier. 

42 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/ 1996/64) para. 18. 

43 Davis 67-68. 

44 International Committee of the Red Cross, "Afghanistan: Indiscriminate rocket attacks on Kabul," 
ICRC News 98/38, September 23, 1998. The news release said that the attacks were "concentrated in 
the northern part of the city . . . notably striking the night market." 

page 216 

8.27 Mazar-i Sharif saw little serious fighting in the early years of the ISA. In 
March 1992, Parchami rebels and regime militias allied with Jamiat and Hizb-i 
Wahdat to take control of the city through a negotiated surrender. Under the ISA, 
Dostum was the most powerful leader in the north, with the largest military force in 
the ISA, and Mazar was the capital of his mini-state. The UN and many NGOs that 
had evacuated their offices in Kabul because of the fighting maintained offices in 
Mazar. 45 Many Kabulis fleeing the fighting moved to Mazar. However, Mazar and 
the surrounding areas were ethnically mixed, with sizeable populations of Hazaras, 
Ismailis, Tajiks, and Uzbeks, as well as colonies of Pashtuns settled there by the 
monarchy to assure Kabul's control over the north. Wahdat had control over the Shi'a 
areas of the city and outlying areas. Until Hizb-i Island retreated before the Taliban 
advance, it too controlled strategic areas of the north. Some Uzbek commanders who 
did not want to join Jamiat or the government also belonged to Hizb-i Island. Jamiat 
forces also controlled territory. In 1994, fierce fighting broke out in Mazar after 
Dostum switched sides to join Hikmatyar. After that, Jamiat did not have much of a 
presence in Mazar and remained wary of Dostum's power. All of the parties had an 
interest in taxing vehicles plying the trade routes north and west to Central Asia and 
Iran, and they divvied up the profits from Kud-o-Barq factory (fertilizer and 
electricity) and the drug trade. 46 

8.28 In May, the Taliban made their first effort to take Mazar-i Sharif. Weeks 
before, senior Taliban officials had conducted secret negotiations with Abdul Malik 
Pahlawan, a general in Dostum's forces whose brother, Rasul Pahlawan, Dostum 
reportedly had murdered in June 1996 (see below). Malik signed a protocol with the 
Taliban in which he agreed to ensure that they could enter the city. 47 Malik apparently 
believed the Taliban had agreed to a power-sharing arrangement with him and saw the 
Taliban as his means to oust Dostum. This is corroborated by one high-ranking 
Taliban official who stated that the agreement was that both Malik and the Taliban 
would keep their armed forces. 48 

8.29 On May 19, 1997, Malik staged a coup and switched allegiance to the Taliban. 
He reportedly took numerous Junbish prisoners and handed over to the Taliban the 
former governor of Herat Province, Gen. Ismail Khan, along with seven hundred of 
his troops. 49 Dostum left the country on May 24 and took refuge in Turkey. Taliban 
forces entered Mazar-i-Sharif the next day. At the same time, the Taliban were 
advancing north in other parts of the country, with fighting in Jawzjan, Kapisa, 
Wardak, and Kunar provinces. The Taliban gained control of the Salang pass and 
moved a large number of troops into areas to the north of the Hindu Kush mountain 

45 A number of these offices were looted when fighting broke out in early 1994. E/CN.4/1994/53, para. 

46 Email communications with former UN staff and with Rubin, 2004. 

47 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 41. 

48 Interview by Patricia Gossman, December 2001. 

49 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council. "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/52/493, 1997) para. 11. 


range. 50 They occupied areas in Baghlan, Kunduz, and Balkh where the Afghan 
monarchy had settled Pashtun populations. 51 

8.30 On May 25, 1997, the Taliban entered Mazar, began closing schools and 
offices, and used the mosques to announce the imposition of Shari'a law. According 
to one witness who was present at the airport after Dostum had fled, Malik ordered 
the transport of Taliban commanders from Qandahar to Shibirghan and Mazar-i Sharif 
in Dostum's air force planes. 52 

8.3 1 Wahdat was not a party to Malik's agreement. On the night of May 28, low- 
level Wahdat commanders (senior commanders were not in the city) and local 
Hazaras had begun a generalized attack on the Taliban in response to efforts by the 
Taliban to disarm them. Many Taliban were ambushed in the streets. On May 30, 
Taliban commanders Mullah Razzaq, Fazl Ahmad, and Gen. Gailani met for further 
negotiations with Gen. Malik, Abdul Ghaffar Pahlawan, and others loyal to Malik, 
reportedly in the presence of the Pakistan ambassador. According to reports, Pakistan 
flew a high-level delegation headed by the foreign minister to Mazar, announced that 
the war was over, recognized the Taliban, and asked others to do likewise. 53 The 
Taliban commanders demanded of Malik that he hand over fifteen thousand guns. 
Malik refused. 54 According to Malik, the Taliban announced that they had "driven 
Massoud from Kapisa and Parwan — the protocol is over." 55 

8.32 Malik's forces then turned on the Taliban, and by the next day the Taliban 
were in full retreat from Mazar. According to the Special Rapporteur, estimates of the 
number taken into custody ranged from four thousand to eight thousand, including 
several high-ranking officials and a number of Pakistani nationals. 56 Wahdat took 
some prisoners, a number of whom were reportedly transferred to Bamiyan, others of 
whom were possibly handed over to Malik. The vast majority, however, were held by 
forces loyal to Malik in Mazar, Shibirghan, and Maimana. According to 
investigations carried out by the Afghanistan Justice Project, some who were taken 
into custody in Mazar were summarily executed there. 57 Pakistani newspapers 

50 A/52/493 (1997) para. 11. 

51 This is the background for the expulsion of the Pashtuns after the Taliban were defeated in 2001. 
The monarchy settled Pashtuns in these areas to assure Pashtun control over the local people, and the 
Taliban found it to their advantage as well. When leaders of the previous residents (armed by the US) 
reclaimed the area, they expelled many of the Pashtuns. Email communication with Rubin. See last 
chapter for details on these abuses. 

52 Gossman interview with Malik, 2004. 

53 These events are detailed in numerous press accounts at the time. 

54 Abdul Rauf Begi (General), Az Piruzi-yi Inqilab-i Islami ta Suqut-i Shamal bi-Taliban ( From the 
Victory of the Islamic Revolution to the Fall of the North to the Taliban ) (Peshawar: Danish, 2002; 
first edition 2001). 

55 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 41. Afghanistan Justice Project interview with 
former general Malik, 2004. According to Rashid, the Taliban declined to share power with Malik and 
offered him only a minor post in Kabul. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam. Oil and 
Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)_58. 

56 A/52/493 (1997) para. 12, 68, and 69. 

57 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 41. 

page 218 

reported in July that approximately 550 Pakistanis had also been taken prisoner in the 
north of Afghanistan and were detained in a number of locations. Large numbers of 
persons were detained in Shibirghan and Maimana. 58 Despite repeated requests, the 
ICRC did not gain access to most of the prisoners. One Taliban witness, who had 
been taken into custody along with twenty-seven of his colleagues, identified Gen. 
Gul Muhammad Pahlawan, Malik's brother, as one of the senior commanders taking 
prisoners. 59 

8.33 Over the next month, at least three thousand Taliban prisoners were reportedly 
summarily executed in the largest single massacre since the beginning of 
Afghanistan's war in 1978. Survivors have recounted how the prisoners were taken to 
desert locations and shot. Some were allegedly thrown down wells into which 
Malik's forces threw grenades. (See details below.) 

8.34 Mazar remained under the control of Malik over the summer. On September 
9, inter-factional fighting broke out in Mazar-i-Sharif, and Dostum returned to the city 
from Turkey with the assistance of Uzbekistan. Malik fled to Iran. The Taliban 
advanced up to a distance of fifteen kilometers from the city, and the deteriorating 
situation forced most of the international agencies to evacuate their foreign staff. 
Virtually all of the contending factions reportedly engaged in widespread looting of 
agency offices as well as private homes, often at gunpoint. 60 Wahdat troops attacked 
the ICRC compound and raped one of the expatriate staff members (see below). 61 
From that time on, the ethnic divisions within the province and Mazar became more 
pronounced. When Dostum's hold on the area weakened, Wahdat and Jamiat 
attempted to extend their areas of control. During their retreat from Mazar, according 
to reports by the Special Rapporteur and human rights investigators, the Taliban 
massacred eighty-three people in at least two villages outside the city (see below). 
They were also reported to have massacred Uzbek and Hazara prisoners taken while 
leaving the city at the Kunduz airport (see below). 

8.35 In November 1997, a number of mass graves of executed Taliban prisoners 
were discovered. In some cases, the bodies had not been buried but had been left in 
remote desert locations, where the skeletons were found months later. The Taliban 
called for a UN investigation of the massacre, as did Lakhdar Brahimi, the Special 
Envoy of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, and the UN Security Council. Over 
the course of the next year, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 
sent two exploratory forensic missions to evaluate the sites and determine what would 
be necessary to undertake a full exhumation. Both experts recommended that a full 
exhumation be carried out, but no further investigations were conducted. 62 The 
Taliban exhumed most of the bodies and reburied them in Qandahar after they took 
Mazar-i-Sharif the following year. 

58 A/52/493 (1997) para. 68. 

59 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 41. 

60 A/52/493 (1997) para. 38. 

61 Interviews with NGO and former UN staff by Patricia Gossman. 

62 Finally, in 1999, the OHCHR sent Andreas Schiess, a Swiss laywer, to produce a report on both the 
1997 massacre of Taliban prisoners and the subsequent massacre by the Taliban when they took control 
of Mazar in August 1998. The report was widely criticized for failing to name any of the perpetrators 
or make use of significant amounts of information that had been collected by the UN from refugees. 


8.36 Serious fighting in Mazar broke out again in March 1998, beginning with a 
dispute between Junbish and Wahdat commanders at Hairatan, where the main 
customs post collecting revenue from trade arriving via the trans-Siberian railroad was 
located, and where military aid from countries of the former Soviet Union entered 
Afghanistan. Wahdat had been reinforcing its positions there. 63 According to the 
Afghanistan Justice Project, Junbish commanders killed some thirty Wahdat fighters, 
and Wahdat retaliated by launching attacks in Mazar against Junbish commanders 
(see below). 64 

8.37 Fighting continued north of Kabul into mid-1998. Massoud had stopped the 
Taliban advance north of Salang and remained within rocketing range of the city. He 
remained in Bagram, though it was surrounded, or nearly so, by Taliban positions. In 
August 1998 the Taliban took control of Mazar; by September 13 they were in control 
on Bamiyan. (For details on the Taliban advance, see the following chapter.) 

8.38 In the east, commanders reportedly profited from the mushrooming smuggling 
business from Dubai to Peshawar. In the border areas near Pakistan, Arabs who had 
fought against the Soviets and their Afghan allies entrenched themselves. In May 
1996 one prominent Arab who had been involved in the war in the 1980s — Usama bin 
Laden — reportedly returned to Afghanistan, flying from Khartoum to Jalalabad on a 
specially chartered flight. 

8.39 Qandahar became increasingly lawless as serious fighting broke out between 
Mullah Naqibullah and other commanders, many of whom were rivals for control of 
narcotics growing and smuggling. Commanders in Girishk and Lashkargah fought 
over the control of opium trading routes and wholesale markets for opium. 68 
Throughout much of the country, banditry was rampant, and civilians were at the 
mercy of local commanders who plundered the country of anything they could sell 
and extorted from merchants, aid convoys, and refugees trying to flee the fighting. 

B. Pattern of Human Rights Violations During the ISA Period 
Extra-Judicial Executions 

8.40 After the collapse of the Najibullah government in 1992, mujahidin and militia 
forces reportedly carried out summary executions of former officials of the regime; 
human rights groups and journalists documented a number of these executions. As 
fighting among the parties intensified in Kabul, all of the major fighting forces carried 
out massacres and reprisal killings of civilians, often on the basis of ethnicity. Some 
forces also allegedly assassinated political rivals and opponents or rivals for control of 
the narcotics trade or other resources. Some of these killings took place in or near 
Peshawar or other border areas of Pakistan. Commanders throughout the country 
engaged in banditry that sometimes included murder. Reports on a number of these 
incidents documented by human rights groups and UN sources are included below. 

Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 39. 
Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 39. 

page 220 

Attacks on International Aid Workers 

8.41 On February 1, 1993, four UN employees were murdered near Surkhdiwal, ten 
miles from Jalalabad in Nangarhar province. No group claimed responsibility. One 
expatriate who escaped claimed that "Arabs" were responsible. The local shura 
arrested some Arab militants for the killing and then released them. The British and 
Dutch victims were identified as Tony Bullard, who worked for the UN Centre for 
Human Settlements, and J. A. van Hoeflaken, who was acting as a consultant on water 
resources. An Afghan driver and an Afghan interpreter (identities not listed) were 
also killed. 65 

Summary Executions of Members of the Previous Government 

8.42 The precise number of summary executions of former officials of the 
Najibullah government that took place in Kabul after mujahidin and militia forces 
took control in April 1992 is not known. Over the next three years, a number of 
prominent members of the former government were assassinated, although the 
identity of the perpetrators and their precise motive is not clear in each case. Those 
that took place immediately after the fall of the Najibullah government appeared to be 
reprisal killings. For example, the former Chief Justice of Afghanistan, Abdul Karim 
Shadan, was reportedly abducted, tortured, and killed in Kabul on May 3, 1992. 
Those responsible for his killing were reported to be mujahidin associated with the 
new government. 66 The motive appeared to be Shadan's role in confirming death 
sentences for mujahidin under the Najibullah government. In Ghazni Province, Qari 
Taj Baba, who was affiliated with Muhammad Nabi Mohammadi's Harakat-i 
Inqilab-i Island, reportedly summarily executed dozens of members of the former 
government after April 1992, including some fourteen members of the Parcham 
faction of the Watan Party in July 1993. 67 In mid- 1993, joint forces of Ismail Khan 
and Mawlawi Naqib Akhundzada reportedly arrested and summarily executed some 
two hundred suspected Khalqi supporters in Helmand. After April 1992, commanders 
in Kunar and Qandahar reportedly executed "dozens" of prisoners without any 
judicial proceedings. 68 

8.43 In one incident in May 1992, a man suspected of being a member of the 
former ruling party was arrested in the Ministry of the Interior building by the armed 
guards of Shura-i Nazar, who beat him before shooting him a number of times. The 
incident was photographed by a Reuters journalist and published in the Washington 
Post with the caption, "Death in Kabul: Islamic guerrillas capture and kill a man — 
apparently an officer of the former Communist government's secret police — who was 
found hiding under a blanket inside Kabul's Interior Ministry building after a fire fight 
won by forces of the new ruling coalition. [T]he mujaheddin tie the man's arms and 

65 E/CN.4/1 993/42 para. 19; Robert Block, "Afghan Gunmen Kill British UN Aid Worker," The 
Independent (London), February 3, 1993. 

66 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . ASA: 
11/09/1995 (London: 1995. 

67 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 

68 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster. 


beat him before taking him outside. There a guerrilla executes the prisoner and then 
continues to fire into his body, sprawled on the road." 69 

Assassinations of Political Rivals 

8.44 In some cases, other political rivalries came into play. In April 1994, 
Jamaluddin Umar, a former senator in the upper house established by the government 
after 1987, was abducted from his home in Khairkhana, northwest Kabul, by four men 
who took him away in a car. His family later found his body. The former senator had 
reportedly received threats from a mullah at a mosque in Khairkhana after Umar had 
criticized the mullah's political speeches. The mullah was a native of President 
Rabbani's Badakhshan province.™ In February 1995, the wife and children of Dr. 
Saleh Mohammed Ziari, a former communist government minister and member of the 
Politburo of the PDPA, were found dead in their Kabul home. All had their throats 
cut. 71 

8.45 In other cases, reprisal killings of former government officials or supporters 
appeared to be part of internal power struggles and rivalries among mujahidin factions 
and local political figures. In July 1993, a group in Nangarhar province calling itself 
"The Oppressed" and supported by members of the former government, was attacked 
by other factions, including men loyal to Commander Shamali Khan, a member of the 
Nangarhar Provincial Council. At least a dozen members of The Oppressed were 
captured and summarily executed. 72 In September 1993 Shamali Khan himself was 
killed, along with four of his men and some twenty bystanders, in an ambush in 
Jalalabad. 73 Shortly afterward, a rival faction commander reportedly had his forces 
abduct, torture, and kill Nasir Khan, Shamali Khan's brother. 74 

8.46 According to a number of reports, killing off rivals and opponents was stock- 
in-trade for many of the faction leaders. Hizb-i Wahdat's commander in the north, 
Ayatollah Muhaqqiq, reportedly had a number of political rivals assassinated, 
according to witnesses interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice Project. 75 There have 
also been consistent allegations that Dostum had a number of political opponents 
killed, including Rasul Pahlawan, who was killed by one of his bodyguards, who was 

69 Steve Coll, "Civilians Bear Brunt of Kabul Battle; New Afghan Government's Forces Gaining 
Control of Capital," Washington Post . April 30, 1992. 

70 Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan, Human Rights Department, Newsletter , Vol. 1, No. 2 (May 

71 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices: 1995 . 

72 Rubin, Fragmentation 277. 

73 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1993 (Washington, D.C.: March 
1994); Rubin, Fragmentation 277. 

74 Shamali was reported to have been negotiating secretly with Hikmatyar, and was a fellow clansman 
of Zardad (Karokhel), discussed below. The shura as a whole decided to eliminate him and burned 
Shamali and his clan's houses. Email communication with Rubin, July 2004. 

75 Unpublished report by the Afghanistan Justice Project. 

page 222 

then killed by other bodyguards in June 1996. 76 Similar assassinations reportedly 
ordered by Massoud and Hikmatyar have been discussed in the previous chapter. 

8.47 On December 31, 1993, President Rabbani sent Najmuddin Muslih (a 
prominent Uzbek leader employed as a personal assistant to Rabbani who had served 
as governor of Takhar, Ghazni, and Herat during Mohammad Daoud's presidency 
[1973-1978]) as an emissary to negotiate with Gen. Dostum. At that time Dostum 
had withdrawn from the Rabbani government and entered into an alliance with 
Hikmatyar. Muslih was taken prisoner by the allied forces of Gen. Dostum and 
Hikmatyar. Although spokesmen for Dostum and Hikmatyar acknowledged that 
Muslih was in custody, his place of detention was never disclosed, and his family was 
not able to contact him. After several months, Dostum and Hikmatyar' s forces 
handed Muslih over to Hizb-i Wahdat in west Kabul. In April 1994 Hizb-i Wahdat 
reportedly asked Muslih' s family for US $5 million for his release, apparently 
expecting the Rabbani government to pay the ransom. No ransom was paid. In 
March 1995 positions held by Hizb-i Wahdat in western Kabul were captured first by 
the Taliban and later by the forces of President Rabbani. When the latter entered a 
detention center where about fifteen hundred prisoners were being held, former 
detainees reportedly testified that Najmuddin Muslih and others had been killed on 
March 19 by Hizb-i Wahdat forces. 77 

Assassinations of Journalists 

8.48 Faction leaders reportedly had lists of people they wanted to eliminate. As 
Kabul became divided along ethno-factional lines, journalists were rarely viewed as 
neutral observers. In September 1992, Shah Mahmood Didar, a journalist working 
with the former government newspaper Haqiqat-i Inqilab-i Sawr . was abducted by 
armed guards patrolling in front of the Abulqasim Ferdawsi School as he was leaving 
his house in Block 14, Microraion 3, in Kabul. He was killed shortly thereafter. 78 At 
that time, Microraion 3 was under the control of Jamiat/Shura-i Nazar. 

8.49 On July 29, 1994, Mirwais Jalil, an Afghan journalist working for the BBC, 
was abducted in an area reportedly controlled by Hizb-i Island while accompanying 
Italian journalist Ettone Mo from an interview with Hikmatyar. The gunmen forced 
Mirwais Jalil to get out of the car at Chehlsitun as he returned from Hikmatyar's base 
in Charasiyab. His body was found the next day in an area controlled by Hizb-i 
Island. He had received numerous death threats from different mujahidin parties, 
including Hizb-i Island. 79 

76 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices 1997 (Washington, D.C.: US 
Department of State, 1998). 

77 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 

78 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 

79 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 


C. Summary Executions of Noncombatants: Reprisal Killings of Civilians 

8.50 The summary execution of noncombatants is a grave breach of international 
humanitarian law. According to a number of reports, these killings were often part of 
a deliberate strategy by senior commanders and faction leaders to depopulate an area 
of suspected supporters of rival groups during the factional fighting in Kabul. Given 
that political rivalries in Kabul at this time generally followed ethnic lines, such 
killings of civilians also followed ethnic lines. In some cases individuals were taken 
into custody and detained before being killed; in other cases they were killed on the 

8.51 According to reports by human rights groups, factional fighting frequently 
included reprisal killings of civilians. During the Afshar operation, the forces of 
Ittihad-i Island (including Arabs) and Jamiat-i Island conducted search operations in 
primarily residential areas, ostensibly looking for Wahdat troops, but also reportedly 
engaging in looting, rape, and other assaults, and summary executions of civilians. 
Some of these abuses are described below, citing the findings of the Afghanistan 
Justice Project. The killings and other abuses appeared to be part of an overall 
strategy to depopulate the area of Shi 'a. A former Ittihad commander stated that 
senior commanders took their orders directly from Sayyaf, who told them, "Don't 
leave anyone alive — kill all of them." 80 Interviews with survivors and former militia 
members indicate that at least several hundred men were taken into custody by Ittihad 
forces and summarily executed. One witness interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice 
Project stated that the soldiers searched the houses looking for men. He said: 

"I was taken to Paghman. At night I was kept in a container; during the day I 
and other 10-20 men were made to dig trenches. There were lots of 
containers. At night some men would be taken out and not come back. We 
could hear shots, and we assumed the men had been killed. I think some were 
buried in the trenches. I finally escaped by hiding in the river under a bridge. 
I left and went to Quetta." 81 

8.52 Another witness stated that after the assault on Afshar began and Ittihad-i 
Island forces had captured her neighborhood, a group of armed men entered her house 
and detained her husband. Then a second group of ten to fifteen Ittihad soldiers came 
to the house and claimed that they were looking for Wahdat forces. They took the 
witness's son. She said: 

80 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 28. Abdullah Shah, former Ittihad commander 
was arrested in Kabul in April 2002 on charges of attempted murder of his wife. When he was tried in 
September 1992, the charge sheet included other murders Shah allegedly committed, including the 
killing of civilians in Kabul in 1992-93. He was originally sentenced to twenty years in prison, but, 
apparently due to pressure from Sayyaf, he was retried and sentenced to death. At the time, however, 
President Karzai announced a moratorium on executions. While in prison, Shah told human rights 
investigators about massacres carried out by Sayyaf s forces and stated that he could identify mass 
grave sites at Sayyaf s headquarters in Paghman. Despite interventions by human rights groups and 
diplomats to maintain the moratorium, after a meeting that included Sayyaf and the US ambassador and 
presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, President Karzai signed the order for Shah's execution, and it 
was carried out in secret on April 19, 2004. Diplomats interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice Project 
confirmed that Karzai had been under growing pressure from Sayyaf to have Shah executed. 

81 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 3 1 . 

page 224 

"My son was about 1 1 years old. They held him and asked where his father 
was. They aimed their guns at him and I threw myself over him. I was shot in 
the hand and leg but he was shot five times. He died." 

8.53 The soldiers then took the family's belongings and left. 

8.54 Another witness told the Afghanistan Justice Project that when Ittihad forces 
entered her house, they beat her father to death inside the compound. They then stole 
all household belongings. 82 One eyewitness reported to an Afghan media source that 
he had seen an elderly Shi' a man nailed to a tree and then shot in the head. An 
Afghan human rights organization reported that marauding militiamen chopped off 
limbs and slit the throats of civilians with bayonets. 83 

8.55 During the fighting between Ittihad and Wahdat in June 1992, Wahdat took 
civilians prisoner simply because they were Pashtun. In one incident documented by 
Human Rights Watch, a Pashtun man was stopped by Wahdat gunmen who threatened 
to imprison him in a nearby container that already held a number of people — it was 
not clear whether they were captured combatants or civilians. Because the man was 
with his young son, one of the Wahdat soldiers let him go. As they were leaving, the 
gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade or other incendiary device into the container. 
The man told Human Rights Watch: 

"I was walking away with my son. We heard the explosion. The container 
had been closed after they put the prisoners in it. I heard the explosion and I 
looked, and then I took my son and started to move away, because we were in 
danger. . . . When I looked I saw that all these people were running away from 
where the container was; people who had been near. I heard screams from the 
container, and there was smoke coming out of the hole. The rocket had 
penetrated and exploded." 84 

8.56 In May- June 1992, fighting broke out between Hizb-i Island commander 
Didar and several others, including Wahdat commanders Riza and Haidar Lang and 
the Shi 'a Harakat-i Island commander Qambar Lang in the Mahtab and Unchi 
Baghbanan areas of western Kabul. A delegation of ten notables from Unchi met with 
Wahdat and Harakat-i Island commanders to negotiate a cease-fire in the area. That 
part of Chardehi, Unchi, had a mixed population of Pashtuns, Tajiks, and Hazaras, 
and commanders with various affiliations had established themselves there. The 
delegation included the mullah of the mosque of Unchi and his twelve-year-old son; 
the mullah of the mosque of Baghbanan; Jaglan (Major) Wardad, an elder of Unchi; 
and six others. The delegates, all Sunni Muslim Pashtuns and Tajiks, were allegedly 
attacked by Wahdat and Harakat forces, and all but one of the delegates were killed. 
The commanders responsible were reportedly Abbas Payadar of Harakat and Tahir 
Diwana of Hizb-i Wahdat. After the incident, some five hundred Pashtun and Tajik 
families from Unchi fled the area. 85 

82 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 32. 

83 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1993 (Washington, D.C.: January 

84 Interview with Human Rights Watch, June 2004. 

85 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 35. 


8.57 There were also some opportunistic attacks on minorities, particularly Hindus 
and Sikhs, but these increased dramatically after the December 1992 attack on the 
Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, India, by Hindu militants and subsequent riots in Bombay 
and other cities, during which hundreds of Indian Muslims were killed. In 
Afghanistan, some mullahs preached about the incident in the mosque, leading to 
attacks against Hindus and Sikhs. The mullahs portrayed these attacks as jihad 
against those who had attacked Muslims. Many Afghan Hindus and Sikhs fled the 
country as a result, leaving behind their land, homes, and businesses. They claimed 
that mujahidin and militia factions had held family members for ransom, killing some; 
occupied their homes; seized their belongings; and looted and ransacked their 
businesses. The attacks occurred in Kabul, Jalalabad, and Qandahar, among other 
places. 86 

8.58 In some cases, commanders reportedly robbed and killed civilians at 
checkpoints. For example, in January 1994 fourteen civilians traveling by car from 
Jalalabad to Khugyani were stopped by armed gunmen, their possessions were taken, 
and then they were all shot dead. 87 

D. Summary Executions of Captured Combatants 

8.59 According to survivors and witnesses, the men taken prisoner in Afshar 
included Wahdat militants, many of whom were allegedly executed in Sayyaf s 
headquarters in Paghman and buried there with an unknown number of civilians. 88 

8.60 In Mazar-i Sharif, men arrested by the forces of Gen. Dostum (some may have 
been captured combatants and others were political opponents) were reportedly killed 
and their corpses dumped in different places in the city. 89 

8.61 One site used by Wahdat as a jail was Qala Gunai in Unchi Baghban in 
western Kabul. Wahdat commanders held captured members of rival factions and 
other political opponents, as well as businessmen and traders held for ransom or 
extortion. A witness interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice Project with intimate 
knowledge of Wahdat stated that a large number of prisoners captured by Wahdat 
during different phases of the Kabul conflict were kept in Qala Gunai, and many were 
killed there. The commander responsible for giving the orders to have detainees 
executed was allegedly Bahrami of Ghazni province, then a Wahdat commander for 
internal security. 90 

86 E/CN.4/1993/42 para. 30. 

87 Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan, Human Rights Department, Newsletter . Vol. 1, No. 6 
(December 1994) 6. 

88 Afghanistan Justice Project interviews, February 2003. 

89 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 

90 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 36. 

page 226 

8.62 By the end of January 1994, Massoud had ousted Dostum from Microraion. 91 
According to one report, a number of Junbish fighters taken into custody following 
the fighting in Microraion were summarily executed. 92 

8.63 The single largest known massacre of prisoners by one of the parties to the 
Afghan conflict was the summary execution of at least three thousand captured 
Taliban prisoners and foreign fighters by forces of Abdul Malik Pahlawan in Mazar-i 
Sharif, Shibirghan, and Maimana in May- June 1997. The precise number of 
prisoners summarily executed under Malik's orders in the north in June- July 1997 is 
not known. One humanitarian agency staff member familiar with the incident told the 
Afghanistan Justice Project that "at least" three thousand were killed. 93 In addition to 
Taliban soldiers, Malik took into custody a number of Junbish commanders and 
prominent leaders, including Ghulam Haidar Jawzjani, who was taken prisoner in 
Mazar and whose body was found in Maimana; Salam Pahlawan from Shibirghan; 
and Shibirghan' s most prominent elder, Rais Umar Bay, who was killed in 
Shibirghan. 94 

8.64 One former Taliban driver who was taken into custody by forces allied with 
Malik gave this account: 

"I am from Qandahar province [name of village withheld]. When we got to 
Shibirghan we established a base there, then moved into Mazar once fighting 
began between Malik and the Taliban. As the fighting escalated, I went with 
two of the mullahs to leave Mazar. We were moving toward the airport when 
we were attacked. They were killed. I was captured. Many senior Taliban 
were killed; others surrendered. Commander Zahir, who was with Malik, took 
us to a prison in Mazar. We were very crowded, we couldn't move. There 
was little food. Sometimes we caught birds and ate them. Sometimes they 
beat us. They beat me on the genitals so severely, I am impotent. Some died 
from the beatings. The ICRC came and gave food sometimes. One night, 
men in military suits came and shouted at us, 'Who is from Qandahar?' They 
separated us. They said there was going to be a prisoner exchange. They took 
our pictures. They tied our hands and put us in a big container. The container 
I was in was full. We were kept in the container all day, until the next night. 
Some of the men inside died. They drove out of Mazar. Then the truck got 
stuck. They opened the door. We were in the desert. They took us out in 
groups of 30 at a time every ten minutes. They tied the prisoners together and 
shot them. We were still in the truck and we could see it through small holes 
in the container. When they shot them they revved the engine loudly. I was in 
the last group. I prayed to God. We resisted when they came for us, but they 
pushed us outside. We stood in three lines, one in front of the other. When 
they started shooting, I just fell down, and others fell on top of me. Then I 
heard someone say, 'Let's shoot each of them in the head.' But I was under 
the others, so they did not shoot me. Then they turned the car lights away to 

91 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1995/64). 

92 Unpublished report, Afghanistan Justice Project. 

93 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 41. 

94 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 42. 


get the truck unstuck. When they were working on the truck, I asked if anyone 
else was alive. There were three of us, but one was injured, and we could not 
help him. When Malik's men left, we went to Tashqurghan and then to 
Kunduz. Mullah Dadaullah and Mullah Baradar were in Kunduz. Then we 
were sent to Qandahar." 95 

8.65 Another survivor stated that he was captured along with twenty-eight others 
while at the airport. 

"They beat us and took us to a prison in Shibirghan. In the prison there were 
150-200 people in each room. There was little food, just rice sometimes. 
Sometimes we were taken outside to a walled area. I was there for two weeks. 
Then they took us to Maimana prison. There were four Taliban ministers 
there: Mullah Mansur, minister for air defense; Mullah Abdul Razzaq, interior 
minister; Mullah Mansadiq, secretary to Mullah [Muhammad] Rabbani 
[chairman of the Kabul shura]; and Mullah Haji Fazl Muhammad, deputy 
foreign minister. They were transferred to Faizabad, where [President 
Burhanuddin] Rabbani maintained his office. The commanders there told me 
there were 700 of us there in Maimana. One day we were told to assemble for 
a prisoner exchange. The Qandaharis were put to one side. A lorry came and 
took thirty of them. The guards told us, 'They have been sent home.' This 
happened two or three times a week. A week after that, one of the soldiers we 
had gotten close to told us, 'We have killed all of your men.' I knew one of 
the generals there, and he protected me and a few others — we knew each other 
from school. When Dostum returned, there were 130 of us left out of 700 in 
Maimana. We were brought to Shibirghan. There was a prisoner exchange 
with the Taliban, and in September or October they sent us to Qandahar." 96 

8.66 In December 1997, the Special Rapporteur and Dr. Mark Skinner, a forensic 
expert provided by the non-governmental organization Physicians for Human Rights, 
inspected sites containing the remains of the executed Taliban prisoners, as well as 
sites that apparently contained the remains of combatants who died in battle. At one 
site, known as the "nine wells" site, the forensic expert determined that at least several 
hundred prisoners had been forced down the wells. These wells have never been 
excavated. At all nine wells, there was evidence of a bulldozed track leading up to the 
well mouth. Seven of the wells were plugged with earth. At all nine wells there were 
spent cartridges. At three wells there was evidence of the presence of antipersonnel 
mines as well as one grenade. The forensic expert found two pieces of human skull 
lying near the earth plugging one of the wells. At another site, near the highway 
between Mazar-i-Sharif and Hairatan, numerous bodies at several sites could be 
observed. At one site, there was clear evidence that the victims had been tied up 
individually or several at a time. There were many spent cartridges and the bodies 
were lying largely covered with sand in a row on either side of a ridge. 97 In May 

95 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 42. 

96 Interview with Patti Gossman in December 2001 . 

97 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1998/71) para. 3. 

page 228 

1998, the OHCHR sent a second human rights expert, William O'Neill, to the sites. 
He also recommended a full investigation. 

8.67 During their retreat from Mazar in June 1997, the Taliban reportedly 
massacred eighty-three people in at least two villages outside the city. According to 
the report of the Special Rapporteur, fifty-three Shi'a villagers were killed in 
Qizilabad and some twenty houses set on fire. Village elders stated: 

"The Taliban had arrived in the village in the afternoon and had started 
knocking on doors and asking for weapons. If the person who had opened the 
door said that they did not have any, they were shot on the spot, in front of 
their family. If a person provided a weapon, they were allegedly shot on the 
spot by the Taliban with that same weapon. A number of farmers from the 
village were killed in the fields, some reportedly with their own agricultural 
implements. A group of 14 or 15 young men were taken from the village to 
the nearby airport where they were tortured and subsequently executed." 98 

8.68 The killings were carried out partly as acts of revenge because the village had 
fiercely resisted the Taliban during their first offensive on Mazar-i-Sharif in May 
1997, and partly because the villagers were Shi'a. In the village of Shaikhabad, many 
inhabitants had fled the advancing Taliban forces, except for the oldest among them. 
According to the report of the Special Rapporteur, the Taliban had entered the village, 
tortured and killed thirty old men, and mutilated some of the bodies. Villagers also 
claimed that local Pashtun commanders who had joined the Taliban might also have 
participated in the killings, and that similar killings had taken place in a number of 
other villages in the area." 

8.69 Retreating Taliban soldiers were also reported to have executed Uzbek and 
Hazara civilian prisoners at the Kunduz airport after retreating from their defeat in 
Mazar. These were apparently civilians picked up at random during the hasty retreat 
from Mazar by way of Tashqurghan. According to an account by a former Taliban 
official who participated in the operation: 

(a) "I stood by as the rest of the prisoners, around 240 men, were all lined 
up in a field. Ten at a time, they were led forward with their blindfolds on, 
and shot in the head by the Taliban soldiers. In order to save bullets and 
minimize the chances of missing their targets, the executioners stood within 
one meter of their victims. The soldiers were standing in such close proximity 
to their targets that they themselves were soon covered in blood. Their long 
scraggly beards became red and sticky with blood. I even saw a couple of 
men who were splattered by the brains of the men they had just shot. 

(b) "At one point during the executions, a middle-aged Hazara man tried 
to escape and ran off across the field. The Taliban soldiers started laughing. 
We were in the middle of a vast field with no places to hide, except perhaps 
behind some bombed-out old Soviet tanks along the runway. 'Where are you 
running, you stupid man? You think the infidels are going to send in some 

E/CN.4/1998/71,para. 1. 
E/CN.4/1998/71,para. 2. 


parachutists to save you or something?' they yelled out with their voices 
dripping with irony. 

(c) "After letting the still blindfolded man run around in circles for a 
minute or two, a few men got into a pick up truck and took off after him. 
When he heard the truck roaring behind him, the man let out a scream, 
suffered a heart attack and died. The soldiers brought back the man's body, 
and they were joking about how he had helped to save them one more bullet, 
which would be reserved to kill General Dostum. 

(d) "After all the men had been massacred, they ordered the truck drivers 
to drive their heavy vehicles over the corpses. After many trips over the 
bodies, they had been pushed down until they were even with the surface of 
the earth. . . . Later, I heard from some of my friends who had returned to the 
airport a few days after the killings that the bodies of the dead men had all 
been devoured by wild dogs and vultures. The dogs had become mad because 
of all the human flesh they had consumed. The next time I was at the airport, 
there were no signs of the mass murder which I had witnessed — somebody 
must have buried whatever was left of the victims." 100 

E. Assassinations of Afghans in Pakistan 

8.70 As had been the case in the pre-1992 period, Afghans living in Peshawar and 
other areas of Pakistan continued to be at risk. Those most vulnerable included 
Afghans who were opposed to certain mujahidin leaders. For example, in December 
1993, unidentified gunmen assassinated Wali Khan Karokhel, the head of the Council 
of Understanding and National Unity. 101 Wali Khan Karokhel had been on the 
military committee of the National Islamic Front of Afghanistan, led by Sayyid 
Ahmad Gailani. Commander Shamali, also a Karokhel, was killed at the same time. 102 
Other prominent Afghans, including those involved with international or local non- 
governmental organizations and members of Afghan human rights organizations 
living in Pakistan, reportedly received death threats. 103 The following represent only a 
few examples. 

8.71 After repeated threats to his life in early November 1995, Abdul Hakim 
Katawazi, also a member of the Council for Understanding and National Unity of 
Afghanistan, was shot dead as he was entering the offices of the Council in Peshawar. 
On November 3, 1995, an Afghan tribal leader, Wakil (former member of parliament) 
Wazir Muhammad, was reportedly shot dead in Hayatabad Township, Peshawar. 
Four armed persons killed Dr. Nahid Azamat and her assistant, Ms. Razia Shafaq, a 
nurse, who were running a private clinic in Jalozai refugee camp. According to the 
UN Special Rapporteur, political motives were suspected in all these assassinations. 104 

100 Report of "Gulbuddin," in Alex Klaits and Gulchin Gulmamadova, Love and War in Afghanistan 
(New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005 [forthcoming]). 

101 E/CN.4/1 994/53 para. 38. 

102 Email communication with Rubin, July 2004. 

103 E/CN.4/1 994/53 para. 38. 

page 230 

F. Indiscriminate and Disproportionate Use of Force in 
Predominantly Civilian Areas: The Battle for Kabul 

8.72 During the battle for Kabul between 1992 and 1996, tens of thousands of 
people were reportedly killed. The vast majority of them were civilians killed in 
rocket and artillery attacks. Large sections of the city were reduced to rubble. West 
Kabul, where a significant amount of the fighting took place, saw twenty-seven 
battles and remains the most devastated area of the city. 105 Although the military 
factions had their headquarters and other military installations in the neighborhoods 
they controlled, the rocket attacks and shelling reportedly were mostly indiscriminate. 
Houses, hospitals, schools, and residential streets were struck on a regular basis. As 
noted in the US State Department report covering 1993, the Hizb-i Island faction fired 
numerous rockets at the capital, frequently demolishing residential or commercial 
districts of no discernible military value. 106 

8.73 Hizb-i Islami was responsible for the greatest number of rocket attacks, 
launched mainly from Hikmatyar's base in Charasiyab, Logar province, south of 
Kabul. As had been the case before the collapse of the Najibullah government, the ISI 
reportedly supplied and paid Hikmatyar to carry out these attacks under its 
instructions. 107 A few of the most intense incidents of rocketing are listed below. A 
driver with Hizb-i Islami based in Logar stated that the rocket attacks were carried out 
under the direct orders of Hikmatyar. Four military divisions were involved in rocket 
launching. The commanders in charge allegedly included Turan (Major) Aman, head 
of Sama division; Abubakar, head of Lashkar-i Isar division; Kashmir Khan, head of 
Jabha-i Ghandaq; and commanders Zardad, Haji Asadullah Qandahari, Abdul Sabur 
Farid, and Sayyid Rahman. Another resident of Logar stated that the commanders 
were launching from Khairabad hill and Dasht-i Saqawa, in Charasiyab district, Logar 
province, south of Kabul. 108 

8.74 In late April 1992, fierce fighting took place in residential areas near Bala 
Hissar fort, and journalists reported that civilians were trapped in their homes or 
basements, unable to bring the wounded to hospitals. Many were killed in rocket 
attacks or by bullets as contending forces fought street battles in residential areas. 109 
According to various press reports, in early May Hikmatyar again pounded Kabul 
with rockets, and ISA forces responded with artillery and rockets that hit the southern 
outskirts of Kabul. Civilian casualties were high. 

8.75 According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, one to two 
thousand people were killed by rockets in three weeks in August, and eight to nine 

104 E/CN.4/1 996/64 para. 85. 

105 Unpublished report, Afghanistan Justice Project. 

106 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1993 (Washington, D.C.: 1994). 

107 See previous chapter for details. 

108 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 22, 23, 24. 

109 Steve Coll, "Guerrillas Battle for Kabul; Shelling, Skirmishes Mark Rival Groups' Struggle for 
Control," Washington Post . April 27, 1992; Steve Coll, "Civilians Bear Brunt of Kabul Battle; New 
Afghan Government's Forces Gaining Control of Capital," Washington Post . April 30, 1992. 


thousand wounded. 110 During that period, Hikmatyar's forces fired most of the rockets 
that struck civilian areas of Kabul. On August 14, rockets devastated the downtown 
market area of Kabul, killing at least eighty. 111 

8.76 In his report covering the human rights situation in 1992, the UN Special 
Rapporteur noted that the death toll from indiscriminate rocket and artillery fire was 
placed at an average of twenty persons each day. On January 25, 1993, during fierce 
fighting between the allied forces of Wahdat and Hizb-i Island on the one hand and 
the ISA forces under Massoud on the other, twenty reportedly died, and eight hundred 
were wounded; the majority of these were civilian casualties. On February 2, 1993, 
seventy-two persons were reportedly killed in rocket attacks in Kabul and more than 
eighty injured. 112 

8.77 The most powerful of the other factions — particularly Shura-i Nazar/Jamiat, 
Hizb-i Wahdat, and Dostum's Junbish militia — also engaged in indiscriminate 
artillery and mortar fire, as well as limited aerial bombardment. On January 1, 1994, 
a new round of fighting began between government forces and the newly allied forces 
of Dostum and Hikmatyar in Kabul, accompanied by intensive rocketing and shelling 
of predominantly civilian areas by both sides. A journalist described the fighting as 
the worst since the fall of the Najibullah government and characterized the battles 
around the government-controlled areas of Microraion as particularly bloody. 113 This 
led to a mass exodus of people from the city. Since Pakistan closed the gate at 
Torkham, the refugees were accommodated in IDP camps in Nangarhar, east of 
Jalalabad, at Du Sarak Sarshahi. 

8.78 In his report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur described 
"massive indiscriminate killing in Kabul caused by rocket attacks and air attacks in 
which cluster bombs were used. . . . The city has been subjected to indiscriminate 
rocketing and shelling by heavy artillery. A new and very disquieting feature of the 
current conflict has been the use of aerial bombardment of residential areas of Kabul, 
with highways reportedly being used as runways for the fighter jets." 114 He also noted 
that "[pjersons who managed to leave the city reportedly told human rights 
organizations that the violence of the rocket and artillery attacks was such that they 
did not have the time to bury the members of their families who had been killed but 
simply left their bodies in the house, locked the doors and left. The targeting of 
hospitals and medical facilities has also continued in this round of fighting." 115 

8.79 According to a US State Department report, Massoud's forces apparently 
targeted a hospital facility where Hikmatyar was thought to be undergoing treatment 
for injuries sustained in an August 12 attack by Massoud, but he was not in the 

110 "Up to 2,000 Killed in Kabul Last Month, Red Cross Says," New York Times . September 6, 1992. 

111 "Afghan Rebels Pound Kabul, Causing Heavy Casualties; Shells, Rockets Devastate Central Market 
in Capital," Washington Post . August 14, 1992. 

112 E/CN.4/1 993/42 para. 20. 

113 "Afghan Army Ousts Foes from Capital," New York Times . June 27, 1994. 

114 E/CN.4/1994/53 para. 16. 

115 E/CN.4/1994/53 para. 17. 

page 232 

hospital at the time and had not been seriously injured in the earlier attack. 116 It is not 
known how many people were killed or injured in the attack on the hospital. 
September was a particularly bad month: the ICRC reported that an estimated eleven 
hundred people had been killed and 23,000 wounded in factional fighting. 117 On 
September 27, 1994, a rocket struck a Kabul wedding party, killing forty people and 
injuring seventy. 118 

8.80 An estimated eight thousand persons were killed in Kabul in 1994 and more 
than eighty thousand wounded by year's end; 119 more than 25,000 had been killed in 
the city since April 1992. 120 One million had been displaced by the fighting between 
April 1992 and the end of 1994. 121 

8.81 The Taliban, too, bombed civilian areas of Kabul indiscriminately. In 
November 1995 Taliban aircraft bombed residential areas of central Kabul, reportedly 
killing thirty-nine people and wounding 140. 122 In 1996, after their first offensive on 
Kabul had failed, the Taliban reportedly began to rocket Kabul from the same 
southern suburbs previously controlled by Hikmatyar. In January 1996, they fired 
287 rockets into Kabul, killing forty-four civilians and wounding 167. 123 After 
Massoud withdrew from Kabul, he too reportedly began to rocket the city. On 
September 20-21, 1998, his forces fired several volleys of rockets at the northern part 
of Kabul, with one hitting a crowded night market. Estimates of the numbers killed 
ranged from 76 to 180. Although a spokesperson for Massoud denied targeting 
civilians, the ICRC, in a September 23 press statement, described the attacks as 
indiscriminate and the deadliest that the city had seen in three years. 124 

G. Indiscriminate and Disproportionate Use of Force in Other Cities 

8.82 The fighting in 1994 was not limited to Kabul. Once Dostum switched sides 
to join forces with Hikmatyar, heavy fighting broke out in the northern cities of 
Kunduz and Mazar-i-Sharif. 125 

8.83 In March 1998, Junbish forces in Hairatan — where Wahdat had been 
strengthening its positions — killed some thirty Wahdat troops in combat, including 

116 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1994 (Washington, D.C.: US 
Department of State, March, 1995). 

117 Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan, Human Rights Department, Newsletter . Vol. 1, No. 5 (October 
1994) 5. 

118 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1994 . citing UN and media 

119 E/CN.4/1995/64 para 32. 

120 "Afghan Army Ousts Foes from Capital," New York Times . June 27, 1994. 

121 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1994 . 

122 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1995 . 

123 Davis 64. 

124 International Committee of the Red Cross, "Afghanistan: Indiscriminate rocket attacks on Kabul," 
ICRC News 98/38, September 23, 1998. The news release said that the attacks were "concentrated in 
the northern part of the city . . . notably striking the night market." 

125 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1994 . 


Shafi Diwana, a commander from Bamyan. Wahdat allegedly retaliated by attacking 
the residences of Junbish commanders in Mazar, including Shir Arab's house in Kart-i 
Bukhti, next door to the ICRC compound. Wahdat commanders used the top of the 
ICRC office over the ICRC residence to fire into a Junbish-controlled building next 
door. The fighting was so intense no one could evacuate the trapped ICRC staff until 
the commanders involved withdrew their forces after a truce was negotiated. 126 

H. Enforced Disappearances 

8.84 In many cases, civilians and combatants detained by armed factions were 
never released, nor were their bodies ever discovered. The number of persons who 
"disappeared" during the 1995-96 period in Kabul alone reportedly runs at least into 
the hundreds, but there has been no official effort by any of the faction leaders to 
account for the "disappeared." They are presumed to be victims of summary 

8.85 On November 20, 1993, Shura-i Nazar/Jamiat forces reportedly raided a house 
belonging to a Hazara man, Asadullah Wakilzada, beat him unconscious, and 
abducted his son, aged fifteen. Two days later, in another raid, "government" forces 
took Wakilzada' s two other sons, aged thirteen and eleven. The family attempted to 
negotiate for the children's release but failed and finally left Kabul. The family might 
have been targeted because of their ethnicity, or because Wakilzada had worked for 
foreign embassies. 127 

8.86 Among those who disappeared were members and former members of the 
Najibullah government. Ajmal Sahak, age thirty-two, "disappeared" after being 
arrested on May 19, 1993, at his house in Khairkhana in Kabul by government forces. 
He had earlier been an officer in Najibullah's presidential guard but in February 1991 
had voluntarily retired from army service. He ran a vegetable shop in Kabul and was 
not politically active. As of 1995, his family had not been able to trace him. 128 In 
mid- 1993 Muhammad Yar, a former army officer, together with six of his children, 
the youngest of whom was eight years old, was taken away by forces of Hizb-i 
Wahdat during a raid on their home in Microraion in Kabul. The remaining children 
could not trace the arrested family members and left Kabul a few days later. 129 

8.87 Prominent Afghans living in Pakistan who were outspoken against the 
continued fighting in Kabul were targeted for kidnapping or disappearance. 
Jamiatullah Jalal, a noted Afghan intellectual and the Secretary General of the 
Peshawar-based Council for Understanding and National Unity of Afghanistan, was 
last seen on February 18, 1995, in the Defence Colony area of Peshawar. 130 Two other 
senior members of the organization were assassinated in 1993 and 1995 (see above). 

Afghanistan Justice Project unpublished interview. 

Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 
Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 
Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 
Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 

page 234 

8.88 ISA forces reportedly detained Khan Zia Khan Nassery on October 2, 1992. 
Nassery had recently returned from the US to organize a pro-Zahir Shah movement. 
His family was unable to trace him after he was detained. 131 

8.89 Ghulam Farooq Gharazai, formerly a lecturer at Kabul University, was 
abducted by a mujahidin group on June 3, 1994, on the road from Kabul to Jalalabad. 
He was then forty-eight years old and working in a pharmacy in Jalalabad. He had 
previously been imprisoned between late 1979 and 1987, so he was not allowed to 
teach at the university. He was returning home from Kabul when he was stopped by 
Hizb-i Islami (Hikmatyar) intelligence personnel. He was told to get out of his car 
and has not been seen since. His family sent a man to Laghman to find him. The man 
approached the then commander of Hizb-i Islami, who reportedly told him that 
Ghulam Gharazai was being held at Naghlu jail near Sarobi. 132 

8.90 Ahmad Irshad Mangal, a former army officer turned shopkeeper, disappeared 
after being taken into custody by Hizb-i Islami forces on November 1, 1989, in 
Peshawar. He had served with the Najibullah government forces defending Jalalabad 
during the attempt by Pakistan, with CIA support, to get some mujahidin factions to 
take the city in 1989. Pakistani officials told the family they had no information on 
Mangal's whereabouts. On February 17, 1994, a man who claimed to have been in 
detention the previous eight months with Mangal told the family that Mangal was in a 
detention facility run by Jamiat-i Islami. Prior to that, Mangal had allegedly been 
held at a Hizb-i Islami facility at Hikmatyar' s headquarters in Charasyab, where he 
had allegedly been made to dig trenches. During fighting between Hizb-i Islami and 
Jamiat/Shura-i Nazar forces, Mangal was taken by Jamiat and eventually transferred 
out of Kabul, reportedly to Panjshir. When Mangal's brother asked government 
officials in Kabul for information, he was told that "commanders maintain their own 
private jails, using the prisoners as house servants, or to work on the land or to 
undertake military or mine-clearing activities." As of 1995, Mangal's whereabouts 
were unknown. 133 

I. Arbitrary Detentions and Hostage Taking 

8.91 All of the major armed factions involved in the conflict after the fall of the 
Najibullah government maintained detention facilities. In addition, individual 
commanders maintained private jails. Between 1992 and 1996 thousands of detainees 
were reportedly held in facilities ranging from the prisons and detention centers used 
by the former government to the ubiquitous shipping containers scattered across the 
country. Those detained included members of the former government, members of 
rival factions, and civilians detained because of their ethnicity or political affiliation. 
Extortion was a common apparent motive for detaining both combatants and non- 
combatants. In addition, hostage-taking was commonplace among all the major 
factions fighting for control of Kabul. In some cases, militias abducted members of 
rival militias as an act of retaliation or to exchange for members of their own forces 
who had been taken hostage. 

131 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster ; Rubin 
email communication, July 2004. 

132 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 

133 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 


8.92 In January 1994, Hamid Karzai (then deputy foreign minister in the ISA, now 
president of Afghanistan) was detained and interrogated by agents of the intelligence 
service under the director of intelligence, Muhammad Qasim Fahim. The reported 
reason for his detention was his refusal to issue a diplomatic passport improperly at 
the request of an official affiliated to Shura-i Nazar. He escaped during a rocket 
attack on the building. 134 

8.93 In early March 1995 positions held by Hizb-i Wahdat in western Kabul were 
captured first by the Taliban and later by Shura-i Nazar forces. The advancing forces 
discovered detention centers where some fifteen hundred prisoners were being held, 
including 150 women. 135 

8.94 Sayyaf allegedly maintained his own jails in Paghman. After the Afshar 
offensive, Ittihad forces detained hundreds of Hazara men in Paghman. One estimate 
put the number detained at six hundred, which may include men taken before Afshar. 
Wahdat held at least sixty Pashtun prisoners at the same time. 136 In July 1994, Mullah 
Rocketi, a commander of Sayyaf s Ittihad-i-Islami Party, released seven Pakistani and 
two Chinese hostages he had kidnapped to force the Government of Pakistan to 
release his brother from prison and return or pay for weapons allegedly taken from 
him. Rocketi had held some of the captives since 1992. 137 Mullah Rocketi joined the 
Taliban the next year. Sayyaf, along with some other parties that had maintained 
secret detention facilities in Pakistan before 1992, continued to use them. According 
to a report by the Afghan human rights group Committee on Coordination for 
Afghanistan (CCA), a man who had left Kabul in September 1994 after his home was 
destroyed in the fighting was abducted in Peshawar by Sayyaf s forces and held in a 
dark, damp cell and beaten for five days. They accused him of spying. Then he was 
taken to a larger room, where there were sixteen other detainees held for similar 
reasons. After family members intervened he was released, but the others remained 
for an unknown time. 138 

8.95 In his report on the January 1994 fighting in the Shibirghan and Faryab 
regions of the north between the forces of Gen. Dostum and those allied with 
President Rabbani, the Special Rapporteur described the motives behind mass 
detentions that took place during or following outbreaks of fighting: "The prisoners, 
who were mostly young men, had reportedly been taken during the recent fighting 
between rival groups in and around Mazar-i Sharif. Allegations were also made that 
they had been rounded up after the fighting because it was known that they belonged 
to the enemy forces. It became obvious that these persons were being held as 

134 Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan, Human Rights Department, Newsletter (March 1994) 5. 
Susan B. Glasser, "Rivalry Revived in Afghanistan; Karzai Takes On Secret Service Led by Defense 
Minister," Washington Post . July 24, 2002. 

135 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 

136 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Political Crisis and the Refugees . ASA 1 1/01/93 (London: 

1993) . 

137 US Department of State, 'Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1994 . 

138 Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan, Human Rights Department, Newsletter . Vol. 1, No. 5 (October 

1994) . 

page 236 

hostages in order to be exchanged. It was indicated that some of them would be not 
only exchanged against other persons but also against money and goods." 139 

8.96 The first major episode of hostage-taking in Kabul after the fall of the 
Najibullah government was during the fighting between Ittihad-i Island and Hizb-i 
Wahdat in June 1992. The fighting allegedly began after four members of the Hizb-i 
Wahdat shura — Sayyid Karimi, Sayyid Ismail Hussaini, Chaman Ali Abuzar, and 
Muhammad Nairn Wasiq — were found dead in Silo Street in southwest Kabul. 
Wahdat believed that Ittihad was responsible. In retaliation, Wahdat forces captured 
Ittihad commander Shir Alam in Pul-i Surkh of Kart-i Seh and then released him and 
shot one of his bodyguards. The fighting escalated, and both groups targeted 
civilians; Ittihad abducted and detained Hazaras, and Wahdat did the same to Pashtun 
civilians. Hizb-i Wahdat leader Karim Khalili acknowledged taking Pashtun 
prisoners in interviews with Reuters and the Associated Press at the time. 140 

8.97 Hostage-taking for ransom or political reasons was common among many of 
the factions. In one case in September 1993, Muhammed Faruq was kidnapped in 
Kabul by gunmen who demanded a large sum of money. The family paid the money 
and it was collected by gunmen using a car that allegedly belonged to Gen. Baba Jan, 
a former regime general who had joined Massoud's forces. 141 Baba Jan is currently 
(as of 2004) the police chief of Kabul city. In 1995 the US State Department report 
noted that "there were persistent, credible allegations of hostage taking for ransom in 
Kabul, reportedly by troops loyal to de facto Defense Minister Ahmad Shah 
Massoud." 142 

8.98 A Hizb-i Island commander, Zardad Faryadi, gained notoriety for his 
predatory behavior. Zardad' s official position in Sarobi was base commander at the 
Eastern Operations Base at Takht-i-Sarobi, on the outskirts of town. Sarobi was a 
strategic point along the Jalalabad-Kabul highway through which traders bringing 
goods to or from Kabul had to pass. It is an important access point into Kabul, and it 
is situated near a major hydroelectric plant that supplies Kabul with electricity. 
Zardad's alleged compensation for holding this strategic checkpoint was to loot any 
vehicles passing through and extort whatever he could from the drivers and 
passengers. He and his men reportedly would stop vehicles and demand money, and, 
if not paid enough, they would detain and beat their victims until they either paid or 
made arrangements to pay. Those who could not pay immediately would be held as 
hostages until friends or relatives arrived to pay for their release. In some cases, 
Zardad reportedly abducted women passengers and detained them for several days, 
during which time he and his men would rape them. There are many Afghans who 
experienced torture and detention at the hands of Zardad and his men. A number of 
people interviewed by the Afghanistan Justice Project described similar experiences 
of being stopped and told to pay exorbitant amounts of money. If they argued that 

139 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of 
Human Rights in Afghanistan" (A/49/650, 1994) para. 48. 

140 Andrew Roche, "Kabul fighting erupts again despite ceasefire," Reuters . June 4, 1992; Sharon 
Herbaugh, "Civilians Tell of Captivity, Torture by Rebels." Associated Press . June 6, 1992. 

141 Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan, Human Rights Department, Newsletter . Vol. 1, No. 2 (May 

142 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1995 . 


they could not pay, they were severely beaten, in some cases until they lost 
consciousness. Many describe Zardad giving the orders and overseeing the beatings. 
They were not released until the payment was made. 143 While extortion was the usual 
motive, revenge was another. According to a witness interviewed by CCA, in April 
1994 a Hazara man was forced off a bus and detained at a checkpoint in Mahipur, east 
of Kabul. He was released on April 17 after paying. The checkpoint was controlled 
by militia under Commander Zardad. Zardad' s men reportedly claimed that Wahdat 
forces had detained one of their men and they had to capture a Hazara for revenge. 144 

J. Torture 

8.99 Torture and mistreatment of detainees were ubiquitous throughout the country 
during this period; virtually anyone taken into custody was reportedly beaten at the 
very least. Every major faction, as well as forces allied with independent 
commanders, allegedly engaged in torture. Some former detainees have described 
particularly gruesome forms of torture, such as being tied to dead bodies for several 
days and forced to eat what they were told was human flesh. Female and male 
detainees, including children and juveniles, were raped in detention (see below). 145 
Detainees were also tortured with electric shocks, subjected to near-suffocation, or 
had their testicles crushed by pliers. Many were deprived of food for long periods and 
exposed to extremes of hot and cold. 146 An unknown number of detainees died as a 
result of torture. For the most part, detainees, especially those held in private jails, 
were held in inhumane conditions, with little food, little protection from heat or cold, 
and severe overcrowding. 

8. 100 What follows is a sampling of testimony about torture: 

(a) A taxi driver traveling with a woman passenger in early 1993: "We 
were stopped in Kot-i Sangi area of Kabul, which is controlled by Hizb-i 
Wahdat. There were several of them. They took us to a house which they 
used as their base. They gave me a paper to write that I had sold my car to 
them. I refused, and they threatened that they would force me to eat human 
flesh. They then began to beat me. I signed the paper, but they did not let us 
go. They then brought some cooked meat and forced us to eat. I ate a small 
piece and felt sick. They then gave me another paper on which they had 
written that the woman passenger was my sister, and that I would be selling 
her for a few afghanis to them. I said I would not do that even if I was killed. 
They beat me for some time until their commander told them to stop. They 
told us to go. As we were walking down the stairs, I heard a noise from 
behind. I turned back and noticed that the woman was not there. I was 
threatened to go, otherwise I would be killed." 147 

143 Unpublished report, Afghanistan Justice Project. 

144 Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan, Human Rights Department, Newsletter . Vol. 1, No. 2 (May 

145 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: An Update on the Human Rights Situation . ASA: 1 1/012/1995 
(London: 1995). 

146 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 

page 238 

(b) Many prisoners arrested by Shura-i Nazar forces in Kabul were 
apparently first taken to the detention centers formerly run by KhAD. As of 
early 1994, there were two hundred prisoners held in Riyasat-i Awal 
(Directorate One), located in the KhAD office in Sheshdarak. Former 
detainees stated that torture and ill-treatment were routine there. 148 A man 
arrested by Shura-i Nazar in early 1994 stated that he had been interrogated 
under torture by people from the Ministry of State Security. He said he was 
then categorized by the guards as a "political prisoner" and therefore deprived 
of contact with other prisoners: "I was put in an isolated cell. In the 
interrogation room, I could hear cries of pain from cells around me. They 
interrogated me by putting a picture of a person in front of me asking who he 
was. I did not know, so they gave me electric shocks. They brought some 
people from their 'committee to protect faith.' They started a new course of 
torture. They put one of my testicles between a pair of pliers and crushed it. I 
have had severe pain since then. I was kept in that dirty room for several 
months. They would not take me to the toilet. There was no water for me to 
wash my hands and face. One day, they hit me with a Kalashnikov rifle butt, 
and my skull broke. Electric shocks continued to be given to my hands and 
feet. I was tortured there for two weeks every other night. One of my ribs 
was broken which healed on its own. They kept beating me. They wanted me 
to say yes to everything. They said I was a political prisoner — all this meant 
was that I should be kept in an isolation cell. In every 24 hours they would 
give me 250 grams of dried bread. When I was released, my wife weighed me 
and I was only 48 kilograms. Normally I am 73. " 149 

(c) In January 1994 a woman journalist living in Kabul was reportedly 
detained and beaten repeatedly with a rifle butt by members of Hizb-i Wahdat. 
They accused her of wanting to send information to the enemy. She was told 
that she would be killed because of her bias against the party. She was then 
told that she would be released if she had sex with the armed guards. When 
she refused, she was subjected to a mock execution. She was released when a 
large sum of money was given to the guards. 150 

(d) According to a press report cited by the US State Department, in 1995 
prisoners in a Panjshir prison in the north run by Massoud's forces were 
routinely beaten, kept awake at night, and fed insufficient and bad food. 151 

(e) During his visit to the north in 1996, the Special Rapporteur was 
informed that cries of prisoners being tortured could be heard in the city of 
Kunduz. The prisoners were reportedly detained at the airport in order to 
serve as human shields to prevent the bombardment of the airport. 152 

Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 
Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 
Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster . 
Amnesty International, Afghanistan: International Responsibility for Human Rights Disaster. 
US Department of State, 'Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1995 . 
A/53/493 (1997) para. 50. 


K. Rape 

8.101 Rape became a common feature of the inter- factional fighting in Kabul, often 
occurring on a large scale when rival factions raided each other's territory or 
attempted to drive one ethnic group out of a part of Kabul. Independent commanders 
also committed rape, abducting women from a given locality or who were traveling 
past checkpoints controlled by the commander's forces. Given societal taboos on 
discussing the subject, firsthand testimony from rape survivors is rare. The reports of 
the Special Rapporteur mention some instances of rape, but the reports are sketchy. 
International human rights organizations and local humanitarian agency staff have 
nonetheless interviewed women who were raped. 

8. 102 The first major incidents of rape as part of the factional fighting in Kabul 
occurred during the June 1992 clashes between Ittihad and Wahdat. Also in 1992, 
unidentified armed groups attacked Hindu and Sikh residents of Kabul — minorities 
who had a long history of living in Kabul. The violence, which reportedly included 
rape, drove Hindus and Sikhs to leave Afghanistan. According to reports received by 
the Special Rapporteur, their family members were held hostage for ransom or 
murdered indiscriminately, female family members were allegedly raped, their homes 
were occupied, their belongings were seized, and their businesses were looted and 
ransacked. 153 

8. 103 During the assault on Afshar in February 1993, Ittihad troops raped an 
unknown number of women in the area, most of whom were Hazaras or members of 
other minority groups. According to a former Ittihad commander, some women were 
taken to Paghman and raped for a year. 154 The Afghanistan Justice Project interviewed 
several women who were raped during the offensive. 

(a) One woman, F., a resident of Afshar whose son was killed by Ittihad 
forces, was raped by the same soldiers after her son had been shot. (An earlier 
Ittihad search party had detained her husband, described above.) She had been 
injured by bullets in her hand and leg while trying to protect her son, and she 
told the Afghanistan Justice Project, "While I was still bleeding they raped 
me." She stated that three soldiers held her down while the fourth raped her in 
the basement of her own house. A neighbor, Z., was staying with F. that day. 
The first group of soldiers took F.'s husband. The second group, which came 
in the afternoon, raped F. and Z.'s two daughters, ages fourteen and sixteen, 
and another woman, R., who was also in the house. The soldiers took them by 
turns down to the basement to carry out the rape. One girl was injured by 
bayonet when she attempted to resist. 155 

(b) Another witness, S., stated that armed men had burst into her house at 
Afshar-Silo on the second day of the Afshar operation. They beat and raped 
her and her sister in their house and looted the contents. 156 

153 E/CN.4/1 993/42 para. 30. 

154 Afghanistan Justice Project interview with Abdullah Shah, February 2004. 

155 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 32. 

156 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 32. 

page 240 

(c) Witness Sh. stated that after capturing Afshar, Ittihad-i Islami troops 
forcibly entered her house at 7 A.M.. They raped four girls in their residential 
compound, including Sh., her sister, aged fourteen years, and two others. 157 

8.104 During the fighting in 1994, there were also incidents of rape. The Special 
Rapporteur received a report about alleged imprisonment and rape of more than 
eighty women in the basement of a house in the Garga neighbourhood in the 
northwestern part of Kabul. 158 In March 1995, following the capture of the Kart-i Seh 
district from Wahdat, Shura-i Nazar forces allegedly "went on a rampage," raping 
women and looting houses, apparently in revenge for attacks by Wahdat forces on 
Tajiks and to punish the local population for their support of Wahdat forces, or to 
drive them from the area. Medical workers said that they knew of at least six rapes 
and two attempted rapes, but that they believed the actual number was much higher. 159 

8. 105 During fighting between Jamiat and Dostum in the north in 1994, "marauding 
militiamen abused many women in Mazar-i-Sharif in January and in Kunduz, 
according to international media and other sources." 160 On January 13, 1995, armed 
gunmen said to be affiliated with Hizb-i Islami reportedly attacked a refugee camp 
near the town of Kunduz inhabited by Tajiks who had fled Tajikistan. They raped 
thirteen Tajik women before killing them. 161 

8. 106 In September 1997, when the Taliban tried and failed for a second time to take 
Mazar-i Sharif, factional fighting broke out in the city, with widespread looting of 
homes, UN offices, and the offices of international and local non-governmental 
organizations. 162 Wahdat troops linked to the brother of the late Haji Ahmadi 
reportedly attacked the ICRC compound and raped one of the expatriate staff 
members. 163 

Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 32. 
E/CN.4/1995/64para. 10. 

US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1995 . 
US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1994. 
US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1996 . 
A/52/493 (1997) para. 37. 
Unpublished report, Afghanistan Justice Project. 



9. 1 The Taliban's ruling structure was based on their understanding of Islamic 
precepts of government. It was headed by an amir (Mullah Muhammad Umar), who 
was assisted by shuras . or consultative bodies. Since their concept of Islamic 
authority was that of the amir leading a community ( millat ) of Muslims, Mullah Umar 
renamed the Islamic State of Afghanistan the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in 
October 1997. 

9.2 The Taliban had well-developed civilian and military structures, with some 
overlap between the two. Both recognized the supreme authority of Mullah Umar and 
had their own chain of command. 1 The Taliban had established clear structures of 
command and control. Throughout this period Mullah Umar and his confidants in 
Qandahar both retained supreme authority and remained actively involved in 
operations and decisions. Military communications and a fairly flat organizational 
hierarchy allowed operational commanders to communicate directly with Qandahar. 2 

9.3 Almost from its inception, the Taliban movement reportedly had the financial 
backing and political support of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to military 
analysts and human rights researchers who have investigated outside military support 
to the Afghan parties, of all the countries involved with providing military assistance 
to favored armed factions in Afghanistan, none matched Pakistan in the scope and 
breadth of its relationship with the Taliban. Pakistan provided the Taliban with 
financial assistance, weaponry, and sufficient logistical, operational, and intelligence 
support to transform a small movement into a formidable military power in 
Afghanistan. According to human rights reports, some of which quoted UN sources, 
Pakistani intelligence and military figures were active in directing operations at 
crucial battles in Afghanistan. 3 !. 

1 Mullah Umar was "elected" as amir al-mu ' minin (commander of the believers, a title of the caliph) by 
an assembly of about twelve hundred invited ulama in Qandahar in 1996. Subordinate to him was the 
Kabul shura . effectively a cabinet of ministers, chaired by Mullah Muhammad Rabbani, whose position 
was analogous to that of a prime minister or head of government. See Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: 
Militant Islam. Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000) 98- 

2 Email communication with former UN staff, August 2004. 

3 Human Rights Watch, Crisis of Impunity: The Role of Pakistan. Russia and Iran in Fueling the Civil 
War in Afghanistan . Human Rights Watch Publications (July 2001) Vol. 13, no. 3 (C). 

page 242 

A. Political Developments 1994-2001 4 

9.4 " Taliban ." or madrasa students, exist throughout rural Afghanistan in the 
private madrasas that dot the countryside. Such taliban . often fighting under the 
leadership of their teachers, formed one of the components of several mujahidin 
parties, notably Harakat-i Inqilab-i Islami and Hizb-i Islami (Khalis). 

9.5 In 1994, Qandahar city and province were notoriously insecure. The 
commanders' shura that had taken control of the province after the Najibullah 
government collapsed had fallen apart, and the city and province were divided among 
rival commanders. According to human rights, press, and other reports, few 
humanitarian agencies worked there, and hostage-taking of civilians for extortion and 
rape was rampant. Traders trying to transport (often smuggled) goods from Pakistan 
to Iran were at the mercy of commanders whose checkpoints segmented the road 
between Quetta and Qandahar. 5 

9.6 Sometime in late 1994 a group of former mujahidin from southern Pashtun 
tribes coalesced around Mullah Umar, a former commander with Hizb-i Islami 
(Khalis) who had returned to his home district after the Soviet withdrawal. Because 
the core group included students and teachers at the madrasas affiliated with the 
Jamiat-ul-Ulema-i Islam party in Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier Province of 
Pakistan, they called themselves "taliban." Others who joined the group later had 
been commanders in other predominantly Pashtun parties and former Khalqi PDPA 
members. 6 The Taliban's official version of how the movement originated has the 
character of a legend. Sometime in early 1994 this group of former mujahidin, deeply 
disturbed by the state of anarchy prevailing in the province, attacked a particularly 
predatory commander in Umar's home district of Sangisar. This commander had 
reportedly abducted and raped local girls. Umar and his group rescued the girls and 
executed the commander. They captured the commander's weapons and went on to 
attack other commanders in the area, acquiring more weaponry. 7 The Taliban 
emerged, claiming that their objective was to restore Islam and justice. By then the 
movement had attracted the attention of Pakistan. According to reports cited in more 
detail below, Pakistan, disillusioned with Hikmatyar's repeated failures to take Kabul, 
badly needed a client in Afghanistan to establish a government in Kabul that would 
protect Pakistan's interests. 

4 The Taliban proclaimed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan after they had taken control of Kabul in 
1996. This background section also provides information about the emergence of the Taliban as a 
military force, and thus begins with their origins in 1994. 

5 See Barnett R. Rubin, The Search for Peace in Afghanistan: From Buffer State to Failed State (New 
Haven: Yale University Press, 1995) 139-140 for some specific instances of insecurity in Qandahar. 

6 William Maley, "Interpreting the Taliban," in Fundamentalism Reborn? Afghanistan and the Taliban 
ed. William Maley (London: C. Hurst & Co., 1998): 15. 

7 The incident is recounted by Rashid 25, among others. 


9.7 Benazir Bhutto was then prime minister of Pakistan. She and her interior 
minister, Gen. Naseerullah Khan Babar, reportedly sought to secure trade routes to 
Central Asia. In a now-famous incident, in October 1994, Colonel Imam of the ISI 
accompanied a trade convoy that was to travel from Quetta to Turkmenistan via 
Qandahar and Herat in order to determine the feasibility of constructing a rail line 
along the route. 8 Imam was one of a handful of top ISI officers who ran the operation. 
On November 1 or 2, 1994, tribesman across the border in Qandahar province stopped 
the convoy. On November 3, the convoy was freed after Taliban on the Pakistani side 
of the border crossed over and joined the Taliban in attacking the tribesmen who had 
seized the convoy. 9 Also in October, the Taliban captured Spin Boldak from Hizb-i 
Island (Hikmatyar) and possibly took over a cache of weapons there. 10 Within days, 
the Taliban movement, its ranks swollen with newly armed recruits, took Qandahar 
city, routing the feuding commanders who had controlled it. In Qandahar the Taliban 
acquired a real arsenal: MiG jet fighters, helicopters, and tanks. 11 In Qandahar city, 
they closed schools for girls and prohibited women from working. They also decreed 
that women could not go out alone, including to the bazaar. 12 

9.8 After Qandahar, the Taliban, who now numbered several thousand, moved 
into Zabul and Uruzgan and took both provinces with little fighting, either because the 
local commanders simply joined up or were bribed not to resist. 13 The Taliban had to 
fight for Helmand, but rivalries within the Akhundzada clan that ruled (and still rules) 
the province benefited the Taliban, and they took control of Helmand in January 1995. 
Ghazni also fell to them in January, and from there they fought Hikmatyar' s forces at 
Maidanshahr, Wardak province. On February 14, Hikmatyar abandoned his base at 
Charasyab to the Taliban, leaving them with his stockpile of 220 mm Uragan multiple 
rocket systems, ammunition, and one helicopter. Their ranks also included 
increasingly large numbers of Afghan students from Pakistan's madrasas. The core of 
the Taliban leadership comprised a twenty-two-member shura, with Umar at the 
head. 14 

9.9 As described above, the Taliban made their first move on Kabul from the 
south (Charasyab) in March 1995 but were driven out by Massoud. 15 By then, they 

8 Anthony Davis, "How the Taliban became a military force," in Fundamentalism Reborn? ed. Maley 

9 Rubin, Search for Peace 139. 

10 The incident is described by Davis 45^16. There is some doubt as to whether there was a munitions 
dump there or if it had been looted long before. Davis argues that the Taliban either captured the 
dump, possibly with ISI support, or that they received military support at that point from the ISI 
through other means. 

11 Davis 47^8. 

12 The Taliban's policies with respect to women have been described in numerous publications, 
including the reports of the Special Rapporteur from 1994 on. See for example United Nations 
Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1996/64). 

13 Davis 50. 

14 Davis 53. 

15 See previous chapter for a description of the Taliban's first effort to take control of Kabul in 1995. 

page 244 

were already moving west from Qandahar and Helmand, taking Nimruz province by 
late March. But the battle for Farah and Herat was ferocious, and the Taliban advance 
remained stalled and even suffered serious setbacks in August that caused them to 
lose previously occupied territory in Helmand. Ismail Khan's forces, however, were 
now overstretched, and at this point Pakistan apparently intervened to bolster the 
Taliban with additional weapons and logistical support. 16 The Taliban also obtained 
financial support from the Afghan traders in Quetta who were taxed heavily by Ismail 
Khan. 17 On September 3 Ismail Khan abandoned Shindand. He fled Herat for Iran on 
September 5. 18 

9. 10 When the Taliban took control of Herat, they promptly ordered the imposition 
of their interpretation of shari'a and closed all schools for girls and women, as they 
had done in Qandahar. Taliban decrees also prohibited women from working (which 
effectively closed schools for boys, as well, since most schoolteachers were women), 
ordered all women to cover their bodies and faces completely when outside the home, 
and ordered them not to go outside the home unless accompanied by a close male 
relative. The decree exempted women working in health care, who were permitted to 
continue working. The same restrictions applied to other areas under Taliban control. 
In response, UNICEF and some other aid agencies suspended assistance activities in 
Qandahar and Herat. 19 

9.11 After repeated failed offensives on Kabul through late 1995 and early 1996, 
during which the Taliban pounded the city with rockets, the Taliban moved east, 
seizing Paktia and Paktika. These areas were home to a mix of armed groups, 
including those of Jalaluddin Haqqani and Usama bin Laden, who was then in Sudan. 
Jalalabad fell to the Taliban on September 11, 1996, and Kabul on September 26. 

9.12 With the Taliban's capture of Kabul, the country's civil war entered a new 
phase. While fighting between the Taliban and the forces opposed to them continued 
for the next five years, the Taliban once again established centralized control in the 
areas they occupied. Their primary means of social control was through the judiciary, 
which was now bound to adhere to the Taliban interpretation of the shari'a, and 
through the establishment of the Ministry of Enforcement of Virtue and Suppression 
of Vice ( al-Amr bi al-Ma'ruf wa al-Nahi 'an al-Munkir ). which was responsible for 
the enforcement of all Taliban decrees regarding moral behavior. The ministry, 
modeled on a Saudi ministry of the same name, reportedly received financial support 
from Saudi sources. 20 They also had a highly developed intelligence apparatus, the 
main organization of which was run by Qari Ahmadullah, who operated out of the 
former office of KhAD in Sedarat. The provincial governors were also key to 
maintaining central control. Core Taliban who had been with Umar from the start 
were assigned to all the sensitive provinces — Mullah Hasan Akhund Rahmani in 

16 Davis61;Rashid39. 

17 Rashid 191, especially n. 12 

18 Davis 61. 

19 E/CN.4/1 996/64 para. 76. The Herat Declaration was a joint SCF-UNICEF stance withdrawing 
education assistance. Thus, the agencies began acknowledging that certain kinds of assistance were no 
longer possible. Interview with former UN staff member. 

20 Human Rights Watch, Crisis of Impunity . 


Qandahar, Mullah Qabir in Nangarhar, and Khairullah Khairkhwa in Herat. 21 In 
October 1997, the leader of the Taliban, Mullah Umar, renamed the Islamic State of 
Afghanistan the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. 

9.13 When the Taliban took control of Kabul, two Taliban commanders seized 
former President Najibullah and his brother from the UN compound, beat them, and 
executed them. (For details, see below.) The authorities issued decrees banning 
music, television, cinemas, chess, and kite-flying. As in Herat and Qandahar, women 
were prohibited from going to work and girls from going to school. Women were 
required to wear the burqa and men to have untrimmed beards. 

9.14 After capturing Kabul, the Taliban launched an offensive in October against 
Massoud's forces, reaching the entrance to the Panjshir valley and the Salang tunnel. 
In October, Massoud and Dostum's forces halted the Taliban offensive and retook 
Bagram airbase. 

9. 15 In May 1997 the Taliban made their first effort to take control of the northern 
city of Mazar-i Sharif with the help of Abdul Malik Pahlawan, as recounted in the 
previous chapter. In the Taliban's worst defeat, thousands of Taliban soldiers were 
reportedly killed in fighting or summarily executed. Their opponents retook territory 
in the north and northeast. The Taliban made another attempt on Mazar in September 
1997 but were again forced to retreat. They did, however, establish bases in the north 
in areas with significant Pashtun populations, in particular Baghlan and Kunduz. 

9.16 The influence of non-Afghans over Mullah Umar increased after 1998. 
Usama bin Laden returned to Afghanistan from Sudan in 1996 and lived under the 
protection of the Jalalabad shura until the Taliban took Kabul in 1996. His official 
"host" in the tribal sense was reportedly Mawlawi Yunus Khalis. He was living in 
Tora Bora, in Khalis' home district of Khugiani. In 1997 he moved to Qandahar. 
According to human rights and other reports, the increasingly close relationship 
between Mullah Umar and bin Laden was a boon for Pakistan, which needed bin 
Laden' s training camps in Khost to train militants to fight across the line of control in 
India-occupied Kashmir. 22 In August 1998, after the US accused bin Laden of 
responsibility for simultaneous bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, 
the US fired missiles at camps in Khost, killing a number of members of the Pakistani 
militant group Harakat-ul-Ansar. 

9.17 The US imposed unilateral economic sanctions against the Taliban by 
executive order in January 1999. Then, on October 15, 1999, in support of its demand 
that the Taliban end the use of Afghanistan as a base for international terrorism and 
hand over bin Laden, the United Nations Security Council imposed limited sanctions 
on the Taliban through Resolution 1267. The specific measures included a freeze of 
Taliban assets and an international flights ban for Taliban-owned aircraft (i.e. Ariana, 
the national carrier). The Security Council strengthened its sanctions through the 
adoption of Resolution 1333 on December 19, 2000. The measures included in the 
second sanctions resolution were an arms embargo on the Taliban, a general flight 

Interview with former UN staff. 
Rashid 137-138. 

page 246 

ban, a travel ban on senior Taliban officials, and closure of Taliban missions abroad. 
However, there was little effort to enforce the arms embargo; between 1998 and 2001, 
truckloads of ammunition and weaponry crossed the border from Pakistan. 23 

9.18 Pakistan again reportedly backed the Taliban for an offensive on Mazar in 
mid- 1998. Thousands of new recruits from Pakistani madrasas came across the 
border to join the Taliban. Mullah Umar openly recruited them in cooperation with 
JUI madrasas in Karachi (Binoori Town) and Attack. 24 The Taliban also received 
considerable support from Saudi Arabia in the form of pickup trucks and money, and 
the ISI sent advisers to help with training and logistics for the offensive. 25 In July the 
Taliban captured Maimana, and on August 8 they entered Mazar. According to many 
human rights reports and reports by humanitarian agencies cited below, over the next 
week Taliban forces massacred at least two thousand residents, most of them Shi'a 
Hazara civilians, exacting revenge for what had happened to their troops the year 
before. Hundreds of refugees fled Mazar for Bamiyan and, as the Taliban moved on 
to take that city, to Peshawar and Quetta. Bamiyan fell to the Taliban on September 
13. (For details on the killings and other abuses in Mazar and Bamiyan, see below.) 

9.19 The Taliban failed to capture the northwestern district of Balkhab, in Sar-i Pul 
province, during their clean-up operations in the north after the fall of Mazar. 
Balkhab then emerged as a center of anti-Taliban resistance in the surrounding 
provinces. During February to May 1999, resistance forces (mainly Hizb-i Wahdat) 
challenged the Taliban for control of Bamyan province. In May, however, the 
resistance collapsed and retreated into the remotest parts of Hazarajat. The Taliban 
were able to reoccupy both Bamyan and Yakaolang. Resistance to the Taliban 
continued in an enclave that covered various districts of Bamyan, Ghor, Sar-i Pul, 
Balkh, and Samangan provinces, from 1998 to 2001. 26 But, according to human rights 
researchers, the inability of the resistance to defend the territory against superior 
Taliban forces provided the occasion for a series of reprisal operations and episodes of 
collective punishment. 

9.20 In March 1999, Hizb-i Wahdat forces returned from the mountains and 
captured Yakaolang in Bamyan province. The Taliban retook the area on May 9, 
1999. On July 27, 1999, the Taliban launched a major offensive across the plain north 
of Kabul known as "Shamali" (north). According to analysts and human rights 
groups, their troops also included, besides Pakistanis, a significant number of non- 
Afghans of other nationalities — primarily Arab. Prior to the offensive, the Taliban 

23 In April and May 200 1 Human Rights Watch sources reported that as many as thirty trucks a day 
were crossing the Pakistan border; sources inside Afghanistan reported that some of these convoys 
were carrying artillery shells, tank rounds, and rocket-propelled grenades. Such deliveries were in 
direct violation of UN sanctions. Human Rights Watch obtained this information from sources in 
Pakistan and Afghanistan. Interviews and email communication, April and May, 2001. Such reports 
are not new. A 1997 report of the UN Secretary-General cites "reliable eyewitnesses" who saw 
"numerous" such deliveries. United Nations Security Council, "The situation in Afghanistan and its 
implications for international peace and security," Report of the Secretary-General (S/ 1997/894, 
November 14, 1997) para. 18. 

24 This has been documented in a number of reports, especially Rashid 90-92, and Human Rights 
Watch, Crisis of Impunity . 

25 Rashid 72. 

26 Interview with former UN staff who worked in the area. 


allegedly received an influx of supplies, weapons and logistical support from 
Pakistan. The offensive included aerial bombardment. 27 According to human rights 
reports, thousands of civilians were displaced during the offensive. The Taliban 
forces summarily executed civilians and burned down villages, fields, and orchards, 
uprooting vineyards and cutting down fruit trees one by one with the help of prison 
labor, apparently to prevent the population from returning. (For more detail, see 

9.21 Fighting spread further north in September and early October, as the Taliban 
took control of areas around Taluqan (Takhar province) and the districts of 
Khwajaghar (Takhar), Dasht-i Archi (Kunduz), and Imam Sahib (Kunduz). 
Badakhshan was the sole province left entirely under the control of forces opposed to 
the Taliban — principally Massoud and other Jamiat commanders. Displacement 
continued as the Taliban moved east and north. 28 According to human rights reports, a 
number of villages around the town of Khwajaghar in Takhar province also changed 
hands several times in January, and the Taliban summarily executed at least thirty- 
four Uzbeks in one incident there. 

9.22 Fighting also continued in Bamyan province. On December 29, 2000, Hizb-i 
Wahdat forces recaptured Yakaolang. According to human rights reports cited below, 
when the Taliban regained control of Yakaolang in early January 2001, they 
summarily executed 176 men in reprisal, including staff members of a local aid 
agency. During the fighting in Yakaolang, both parties to the conflict violated the 
neutrality of medical facilities. 29 On June 5, Hizb-i Wahdat recaptured Yakaolang, but 
it fell again to the Taliban on June 10. Fighting continued, and when the Taliban were 
again forced to retreat, they reportedly first burned over four thousand houses, shops, 
and public buildings in central and eastern Yakaolang. According to these reports, 
they also burned villages along the path of their retreat, and detained and executed 
civilians. (For details, see below.) 

9.23 On March 11, Taliban forces in Bamyan destroyed two enormous statues of 
the Buddha, thirty-eight to fifty-three meters tall, which had been carved into 
sandstone cliffs overlooking the city in the second and fifth centuries, A.D. 

9.24 In September 2000, the Taliban took territory in Badakhshan up to the Qoqcha 
river, threatening Massoud' s front lines. According to a number of reports, they once 
again had substantial logistical and operational assistance from Pakistan, despite UN 
sanctions. 30 

27 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/54/422, 1999). The UN documents never specifically name Pakistan as a 
supplier of military aid to the Taliban, but Pakistan's role has been well documented by Rashid, 183- 

1 84, and by Human Right Watch, Crisis of Impunity . 

28 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/2001/43). 

29 E/CN.4/2001/43. 

30 Human Rights Watch cited the involvement of Pakistan in directing offensives at this time. Human 
Rights Watch, Crisis of Impunity . This development is also described in detail in Coll, Ghost Wars 

page 248 

9.25 For information on developments after September 11, 2001, see the following 

B. Pattern of Human Rights Violations and 
Violations of International Humanitarian Law 

9.26 According to human rights reports quoted below, Taliban forces engaged in a 
systematic pattern of violations of international humanitarian law on the battlefield. 
The Taliban operated as a centralized military force. These reports identify a number 
of top commanders who were responsible for major operations and moved around the 
country as front lines shifted. The names of these commanders recur in witness 
testimony about massacres in various parts of the country and are listed below. 
Human rights and UN reports cited below describe Taliban military operation in 
which the Taliban carried out reprisal killings of civilians, sometimes in the 

9.27 These reports also describe the "scorched-earth" tactics employed by the 
Taliban, burning down homes, businesses, and, in some cases, entire villages. The 
Taliban also systematically destroyed the means of livelihood of civilian populations 
in areas they wished to depopulate, apparently to prevent local residents from 
providing assistance to opposing forces. 31 

9.28 In urban areas, the Taliban's abuses were of two kinds. Those carried out as a 
matter of policy included harsh restrictions aimed at controlling the civilian 
population. Many of these restrictions targeted women, who were prohibited from 
working outside the home (except in limited circumstances), and girls, who were 
prohibited from attending school (at least above the primary level). They imposed 
restrictions on movement that made it difficult for women to move outside the home, 
even to seek medical care. The Taliban also prohibited women from appearing in 
public without their bodies and faces completely covered and ordered men to have 
untrimmed beards. They also required men to attend prayer in mosques five times a 
day. According to human rights reports, they enforced these restrictions with 
violence; women and men were beaten on the streets for violating dress codes and 
women were detained who appeared outside the home unaccompanied by a male 
relative or who appeared to be in the company of men who were not their relatives. 
Taliban forces also imposed harsh punishments according to their interpretation of 
Islamic law, stoning accused adulterers and cutting off hands of accused thieves. 

9.29 According to human rights reports cited in more detail below, Taliban forces 
also engaged in abuses of power. They abducted women or used threats of violence 
to coerce families into giving their daughters to Taliban soldiers in forced 
"marriages." Taliban security forces in areas outside the Pashtun-dominated areas 
from which they originated detained men on the basis of their ethnicity. In some 

31 Michael Semple, "The Experience of Civilians in Conflict 1999", unpublished paper (Islamabad: 
Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan, November 1999); Michael Semple "Vulnerability and 
Humanitarian Implications of UN Security Council Sanctions in Afghanistan," unpublished paper 
(Islamabad: Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan, December 2000); "Compilation of 
Evidence on Human Rights Abuses Committed by the Taliban in Yakaolang and Western Bamyan, 
February to September 2001," unpublished paper (Islamabad: Office of the UN Coordinator for 
Afghanistan, 2001). 


cases, they suspected the detainees of supporting the opposition; in other cases, they 
held detainees for exchange or for ransom. 

C. Extra-Judicial Executions 

9.30 In areas where the Taliban encountered resistance, particularly as they took 
control of non-Pashtun areas of the north and central parts of the country, they 
frequently carried out summary executions of captured combatants and reprisal 
killings of civilians, according to human rights reports. In the north central part of the 
country, where resistance forces continued to fight the Taliban through 2001 but were 
unable to hold territory, the Taliban carried out a series of reprisal operations for the 
purpose of collective punishment. Similarly, in the northeast, following back-and- 
forth fighting, the Taliban reportedly massacred civilians. 

9.3 1 Some of these killings took place early in their military campaign. In July- 
August 1996, the Taliban summarily executed thirty to fifty captured combatants 
whom they had taken prisoner in Herat and Ghor provinces. 32 As described in the 
previous chapter, when the Taliban withdrew from Mazar-i Sharif after failing to take 
control of the city in May 1997, they massacred eighty-three civilians, according to 
UN and human rights reports, and 240 civilians in the Kunduz airport. 

D. The Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif 

9.32 In one of the largest massacres of the war, during August 8-15, 1998, Taliban 
forces summarily executed at least two thousand people in Mazar-i Sharif, the vast 
majority of whom were civilians, according to human rights groups who documented 
the massacre. Prior to the attack on Mazar, Balkh Pashtuns affiliated with Hizb-i 
Island reportedly switched sides to allow the Taliban entry into the city. Given the 
previous year's experience with Malik (see previous chapter), the Taliban did not 
enter Mazar until the Hizb-i Island forces had encircled the front-line Wahdat base, 
made up primarily of Bamyan fighters, at Qalai-Zaini-Takhta Pul, a large walled area 
northeast of Mazar on the road to Balkh city. The Hizb-i Island forces trapped fifteen 
hundred to three thousand Wahdat fighters, who were then blocked from escaping the 
advancing Taliban troops. 33 Most of the Wahdat fighters at Qalai Zaini were killed on 
the spot. Some seven hundred managed to escape the ambush and move toward 
Hairatan, but as they were on foot, most were killed by Taliban forces that were 
crossing the desert in pickup trucks. It is impossible to say how many were killed in 
battle and how many were captured and then summarily executed by the Taliban 
forces. 34 

9.33 According to witnesses, Taliban troops entered the western outskirts of Mazar- 
i Sharif at about 9:30 A.M. on August 8. Residents reported hearing firing from the 
west from the early morning. Many stated that they assumed that fighting had broken 

32 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices. 1996 (Washington, D.C.: US 
Department of State, 1997). 

33 Interview with former UN staff who worked in Mazar, August 2004. See also Human Rights Watch, 
Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . Human Rights Watch Publications (November 1998) Vol. 10, No. 7 (C). 

34 Confidential interview, by UNHCR, 1998. 

page 250 

out between various factions within the United Front and that they did not realize that 
the Taliban had reached the city until they saw their characteristic black turbans and 
white flags. 35 Witnesses also reported that on August 5 or 6, Jamiat offices were 
ransacked and looted by its own troops eager to get hold of anything valuable before 
anyone else did. 36 Some Hazara families began leaving the city several days before the 
Taliban attack, and Wahdat fighters reportedly detained seventy-six Pashtun men 
from Chaharak; the men were freed by the advancing Taliban troops. 37 

9.34 Because they were accompanied by Balkh Pashtuns with local knowledge, the 
Taliban could locate and seize key installations within the city very quickly. 38 One 
unit, which reportedly included Pakistani members of a radical Sunni organization, 
Sipah-i Sahaba, entered the Iranian consulate in Mazar and shot dead eight diplomats 
and intelligence officers, and one journalist. 39 Wahdat troops inside Mazar abandoned 
the city in a rout, shooting wildly at the advancing Taliban forces and anyone else 
"because they were afraid of the other factions" in Mazar. The Taliban forces pursued 
them, shooting "at anyone who moved," according to one witness. The Wahdat 
commander, Muhammad Muhaqiq, and other senior leaders evacuated by helicopter. 40 

9.35 According to Human Rights Watch, within the first few hours of seizing 
control of the city, Taliban troops killed scores of civilians in indiscriminate attacks, 
shooting noncombatants and suspected combatants alike in residential areas, city 
streets and markets. Witnesses described it as a "killing frenzy." 41 The following 
accounts are taken from the Human Rights Watch report. One witness who passed 
through a market area on her way home saw that among those killed were a boy who 
had been selling bread from a cart, a woman who she was told had been on her way to 
a social gathering, and a man who had been grinding wheat. Many merchants in the 
bazaar were reportedly killed as the Taliban moved through the streets shooting at 
random. In some cases the Taliban used machine guns mounted on jeeps to fire 
continually into the streets. A witness who watched from the roof of a shop described 
the scene of panic in the city: 

"From the roof I could see smoke coming from the west. I came out of my 
shop and went to the customs area from where I could see people fleeing from 
the west. It was chaos. People were running and being hit by cars trying to 
leave, market stalls were overturned. I heard one man say, 'It's hailing,' 
because of the bullets. I went home and from the windows I could hear 
shouting and see white flags on the cars." 42 

9.36 A woman described the killing of her thirteen-year-old son: 

35 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

36 Confidential interview by UNHCR. 

37 Confidential interview by UNHCR. 

38 Confidential interview by UNHCR . 

39 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
situation of human rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1999/40) para 10. 

40 Confidential interview by UNHCR. 

41 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

42 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 


"He was working in a carpet factory and was shot on the first day near Rawza- 
i Mubarak [the shrine in the center of Mazar]. Some people came and told me 
he had been taken to the hospital. They said that before he died he said, 'We 
came to Mazar [from Kabul] to survive and now I am going to die. Who will 
support the family?' I did not even see him. I did not want to leave because 
of him, but we had to leave." 43 

9.37 In the days that followed, Taliban forces carried out a systematic search for 
male members of the ethnic Hazara, Tajik, and Uzbek communities in the city. The 
Hazaras in particular were targeted, in part because of their Shi'a religious identity 
and in part for revenge: Resistance to the Taliban in May 1997 began in the Hazara 
sections of the city. During house-to-house searches, reports indicate that hundreds of 
Hazara men and boys were summarily executed, apparently to ensure that they would 
be unable to mount any resistance to the Taliban. A witness told Human Rights 
Watch, "In some cases the detained male members of the families were beaten or shot 
on the spot. Some had their throats slit." 44 While most of those killed were Hazara, 
witnesses saw or knew of executions of Tajik and Uzbek men as well. A Tajik man 
who was detained on August 10 provided this description: 

"I lived in Kart-i Bukhti. On the third day the Taliban surrounded the streets 
and searched every house looking for Hazaras. They were asking, 'Where are 
the Hazara houses?' There was only one near us. There were four young 
Hazara men in the house, including a friend who was visiting and a young 
man who was doing some work at the house. The Tajiks, Uzbeks, and 
Hazaras ["adult" males] in the neighborhood were also all arrested. We were 
all put into trucks, but the four Hazaras' hands were tied very tight and they 
were taken elsewhere. There were two other Hazara boys in our truck. When 
we stopped near the customs area, the two Hazaras were taken off and told to 
go to the square behind the customs area. A Taliban soldier pushed them and 
then shot them both in the head. I was told later that the four others were 
taken to Takia Khana Mahdia and shot there. They were all workers, not 
fighters. They were all nineteen to twenty years old." 45 

9.38 A medical student testified that the Taliban also searched the hospital looking 
for Hazaras. 

"I saw two Hazara boys, one about thirteen years old and one about twenty. 
One had a broken arm. The Taliban wanted to take them away, but the 
director intervened. But they came back the next day and took them." 46 

9.39 Almost immediately after the Taliban took control of the city, the new Taliban 
governor, Mullah Manan Niazi, delivered speeches at mosques throughout the city, 
threatening violence against Hazaras in retaliation for the killing of the Taliban 
prisoners in 1997, warning them that they should convert to the Hanafi Sunni sect or 

43 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif. 

44 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

45 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

46 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

page 252 

leave the city, or face the consequences, and threatening punishment for anyone who 
tried to protect Hazaras. In another speech he reportedly said, "Hazaras are not 
Muslim, they are Shi' a. They are kuffar [infidels]. The Hazaras killed our force here, 
and now we have to kill Hazaras." 47 As Human Rights Watch noted, "These speeches, 
given by the most senior Taliban official in Mazar at the time, clearly indicate that the 
killings and other attacks on Hazaras were not the actions of renegade Taliban forces 
but had the sanction of the Taliban authorities." 48 

9.40 Thousands of men from various ethnic communities were detained first in the 
overcrowded city jail and then transported to other cities, including Shibirghan, Herat, 
and Qandahar. Most of the prisoners were reportedly transported in large container 
trucks capable of being packed with 100 to 150 people in inhumane and life- 
threatening conditions. In two known instances, when the trucks reached Shibirghan, 
some 130 kilometers west of Mazar, nearly all of the men inside the closed metal 
containers had died of heat stroke or asphyxiation. As in the case of the Taliban 
prisoners captured in 1997 — and, according to Mullah Niazi, in retaliation for those 
killings — the deliberate overcrowding indicated not mere negligence, but an intention 
to torture and kill detainees. 49 

E. Bamiyan 

9.41 The Taliban took control of Bamiyan city on September 13, 1998, but their 
control over the province was incomplete. According to Human Rights Watch, 
"Despite the apprehensions of many local residents, the transition involved far fewer 
civilian casualties than had been the case in Mazar-i Sharif. Some observers 
attributed this to an alliance that was forged with the Taliban by Hujjat-al-Islam 
Sayyid Muhammad Akbari, a Hizb-i Wahdat faction leader, shortly after the Taliban 
seized Bamiyan, the major city in Hazarajat and the capital of a district and province 
of the same name. The Taliban subsequently withdrew most non-local forces from 
several districts of Hazarajat, leaving them under the nominal control of Akbari 
appointees or other Shi'a commanders. Bamiyan, Yakaolang, and a few other 
districts were directly administered by the Taliban." 50 According to humanitarian 
agencies, the Taliban did engage in widespread confiscation of assets, especially 
commercial trucks, during the initial Taliban occupation of Hazarajat. After the 
collapse of the Bamyan front line, Hizb-i Wahdat essentially offered no further 
resistance and its military forces dispersed, withdrew, or sided with the Taliban. The 
deal with Akbari represented an example of the way in which the Taliban used a local 
client as a way of administering an area they did not consider important with a 
minimal presence of their own troops. But the strategy had its limitations and never 
really led to a stable political solution. Akbari was powerless to prevent subsequent 
abuses, which were very damaging to him politically. 51 

47 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

48 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

49 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

50 Human Rights Watch, Massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch Publications 
(February 2001) Vol. 13, No. 1 (C). 

51 Email communication with Michael Semple, former UN regional coordinator for Hazarajat, August 


9.42 Many of the "Taliban" troops were Ahmadzai kuchis led by Hajji Nairn Khan, 
whom the Taliban made governor. Nairn had been minister of tribes and frontiers 
under the ISA. He did not share the core Taliban vision of an Islamic state, but had a 
personal and tribal interest in gaining pasture land and rent from the Hazaras. 52 In 
addition, the Bamyan Tajiks who had encroached on Hazara lands over the years with 
the help of the Sunni state and were subsequently subjected to various depredations by 
Wahdat, had an interest in siding with the Taliban to get back land and houses. 
Ultimately, the Taliban's failure to crush resistance in Bamiyan led Umar to replace 
Nairn. 53 The forces of Wahdat and Harakat-i Island took refuge in mountain redoubts, 
and areas of the province changed hands several times over the course of the next 
three years. Most of the resistance forces in Hazarajat were Wahdat (Khalili), but 
they operated under the auspices of the military committee of the Islamic state and 
included contingents from Harakat and even Junbish. The Taliban retook Bamiyan 
city on May 9, 1999. Upon their entering Bamyan city, there were reports of some 
summary executions. 54 The Special Rapporteur reported that he had obtained 
eyewitness statements describing summary executions of non-combatants, including 
women and children. Some of the Taliban field commanders were specifically named 
in the reports of violations, including Abdul Wahid Ghorbandi. 55 Summary executions 
remained a feature of the Taliban occupation of Bamyan province with the resumption 
of the resistance. 56 

F. Massacres in Sar-i Pul, 1999-2000 

9.43 After their occupation of the northwest, the Taliban were unable to move 
further into Balkhab District, in the south of Sar-i Pul province — a rugged, 
mountainous district, predominantly Shi 'a, which became a base for various forces 
opposed to the Taliban. Najibullah had made this area, formerly the southern part of 
Jawzjan, into a separate province. The first PDPA government had reportedly carried 
out several mass killings in this area in 1979 (see Chapter Three). According to 
human rights researchers, the Taliban repeatedly attempted to destroy this base and 
eliminate any local support for opposition forces. During "counter-insurgency 
operations" in Gosfandi District in 2000, Taliban forces reportedly carried out a series 
of massacres of civilians. The massacres took place within a two-month period, as 
part of a systematic effort to impose collective punishment on the civilian population. 
In addition to these massacres, Taliban forces reportedly carried out other summary 
executions. 57 

9.44 In the five massacres reported by human rights researchers in the reports 
summarized below, killing was by firing squad. The victims were taken prisoner, had 

52 Email communication with Semple, August 2004. 

53 Email communication with Rubin and Semple, August 2004. 

54 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Economic and Social Council, "Situation of Human 
Rights in Afghanistan" (A/54/422, 1999) paras 8, 15. 

55 A/54/422 (1999) para 10, 12. 

56 Email communication with Semple August 2004.. 

"Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past: The Legacy of War Crimes and the Political 
Transition in Afghanistan (October 2004) 49. 

page 254 

their hands tied, and were then shot. The massacres were ordered and supervised by 
senior Taliban commanders who were operating in the area, including Mullah Abdul 
Manan Hanafi, front commander; Aminullah Amin, his deputy; Mullah Abdul Sattar 
Lang, a senior commander; and Mullah Wali Jan, a provincial governor and field 
commander. These senior commanders were assisted in the operation by a number of 
local commanders affiliated with the Taliban who clearly had knowledge of the 
massacres and whose actions — for example, conducting mass arrests — contributed to 
the killing of the civilians. 58 

The Khassar Elders Massacre, February 12, 2000 

9.45 After resistance forces (principally Wahdat, with some Harakat and Junbish) 
had retreated from Gosfandi for the second time, and the Taliban forces were 
conducting a clean-up operation, a group of elders from Khassar village attempted to 
meet with senior Taliban officials to seek security guarantees for the civilian 
population. Agha Dehqan led the delegation. Abdul Manan Hanafi was the Taliban 
front commander with authority over all the Taliban combat forces operating in 
Gosfandi at that time. He was accompanied by his deputy Aminullah Amin. Hanafi 
refused to see the elders and allegedly sent Amin to arrest them and have them 
executed. A witness stated that Hanafi was sitting in a vehicle eating fruit when the 
elders tried to approach him. Instead of seeing them, he ordered his deputy to take 
them away and shoot them. Amin intercepted the group and took them to Boldiyon 
where a group of Taliban soldiers shot them in a firing squad. 59 

The Ab Khor-Achabor Massacre, February 2, 2000 

9.46 On February 2, 2000, the Taliban summoned a gathering of the villagers of Ab 
Khor in the Agha Shahansha mosque. They called on people to surrender weapons, 
which some men did. The Taliban generally "disarmed" an area by demanding a 
quota of weapons, without targeting only fighters with the request. According to local 
witnesses, the active United Front fighters had already left with their weapons. The 
Taliban then arrested ten men, all civilians, and took them to a mosque, where they 
were held overnight. After morning prayers the Taliban allegedly tied the prisoners' 
hands using their turbans and loaded them into pick-up trucks. The senior Taliban 
present in the execution party were reportedly Mullah Abdul Sattar Lang and Mullah 
Malang. (This is not the same Mulla Malang of Qandahar cited in Chapter Six.) 
They unloaded the prisoners at Chapa Gardana, near Achabor. There the Taliban 
fired on the group of prisoners with automatic weapons. There was one survivor from 
the firing squad. He escaped, receiving three bullet wounds and was sheltered by 
local people. 60 

The Yoltorob Massacre, February 10, 2000 

9.47 As the Taliban moved into the Yaltarab area, many locals fled. Others 
remained, however, apparently believing that they did not face a threat from the 
Taliban. Village elders arranged for food for the Taliban — a customary ritual of 

Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 44. 
' Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 46. 
' Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 46. 


surrender and reconciliation. After eating, the Taliban conducted a search of houses. 
They rounded up adult males from the village and held them in the house of Hatam 
Bay. In the initial roundup, the Taliban detained up to ninety people in the house. 
They then screened the detainees, releasing elders. The Taliban held approximately 
twenty-six of the men and detained them for one night in a house in the village. The 
next day, a group of five Taliban escorted the detainees to the execution site, at Tatar 
village. They reportedly lined them up beside a ditch and then fired on them with a 
PK machine gun on automatic and Kalashnikov on single fire. Four of the prisoners 
who were shot in the firing squad escaped alive. They were wounded and left for 
dead. 61 

The Sayyad Massacre, March 26, 2000 

9.48 Residents of Sayyad reported that on March 26, 2000, during the Taliban 
cleanup operation in Gosfandi, the Taliban summarily executed twenty-two men and 
women from Sayyad in four different locations: Jar-i-Shorab, Jar-i-Bator, Sayyad 
village, and Bashom Aikashom. 62 

The Jar-i-Rajab Massacre, March 28-29, 2000 

9.49 On March 28, Taliban forces raided Ab Khor and rounded up the men, sparing 
the elders. The Taliban then tied the prisoners' hands and transported them to 
Khassar village. There the Taliban reportedly killed the prisoners by firing squad in a 
large ditch, using a PK machine gun and Kalashnikov. The people of Khassar found 
and buried twenty-five bodies in the village. Two of the detained men were never 
found. 63 

Summary Executions in Ismail, Shahmard, and Baldiyan, February-March 2000 

9.50 In addition to these massacres, Taliban forces reportedly summarily executed 
sixteen people from Ismail and Shahmard villages. In one case, after the retreat of the 
opposition from Ismail, an elderly mullah named Muhaqqiq, together with five other 
men, went to meet the Taliban in order to obtain from them some guarantee for the 
security of the civilian population. They met a patrol of Taliban fighters in the 
village. When the leader of the delegation introduced himself, the Taliban allegedly 
shot him on the spot. They then detained and interrogated the other men. Those who 
identified themselves as Hazara were reportedly killed on the spot. The other three, 
who called themselves Sayyids (Sadat) or Tajiks, were spared. 64 

G. The Rabatak Massacre 

9.51 The Taliban also resorted to arbitrary detentions as a means of social control. 
In provinces where the Taliban had faced resistance, they detained men from villages 
in the area and held them for prolonged periods as hostages. In May 2000, Taliban 

61 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 47. 

62 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 47. 

63 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 47. 

64 Afghanistan Justice Project, Candidates and the Past 47. 

page 256 

forces reportedly summarily executed a group of civilian detainees near the Rabatak 
pass, which lies along the road connecting the towns of Tashqurgan and Pul-i Khumri. 
Thirty-one bodies were found at the execution site, twenty-six of which were 
identified as the bodies of Ismaili Shi'a Hazara civilians from Baghlan province. 65 
Their remains were found to the northeast of the Rabatak pass, in an area known as 
Hazara Mazari, on the border between Baghlan and Samangan provinces. The area 
was controlled by the Taliban at the time of the executions. All of those who have 
been identified were detained for four months before being killed; many of them were 
tortured before they were killed. The men were taken from their homes by Taliban 
troops between January 5 and January 14, 2000. The facilities at which the men were 
detained were under the command of Commander Mullah Shahzad Qandahari, who 
was the Taliban commander of the Khinjan front north of Kabul. The following 
account of the incident is taken from Human Rights Watch, "Massacres of Hazaras in 

(a) "On January 5, 2000, a Taliban force raided the village cluster of 
Naikpai, in Doshi district of Baghlan province. The Taliban soldiers came in a 
convoy of pickup trucks at dawn. They started to round up men from Bakas, 
Zaighola, and other hamlets in Naikpai, seizing many of them in their houses. 
A number of those who were arrested were village elders. There were many 
other people present and virtually the entire population of the village 
witnessed the arrests. Local residents assumed that the arrests were a warning 
to deter them from having contacts with United Front forces. The detainees 
were held at Mullah Shahzad's operational military base at Khinjan. Relatives 
of the detainees were allowed to visit the base, and were informed of 
conditions in the facility by the detainees. The men who were detained 
between approximately January 5 and 10 were subjected to severe beatings 
with electric cables and were forced to stand outside in sub-zero temperatures 
and snow. One of those who was later killed near the Robatak pass, Sayyid 
Tajuddin, who was thirty-eight, suffered frostbite as a result of the exposure 
following his beating. When the detainees were transferred to Pul-i Khumri, 
he was admitted to the Textile Factory hospital. Both feet were amputated 
there, and he was provided with a pair of locally fabricated crutches. 

(b) "At the end of the military operation, around January 14, all of the 
detainees were transferred to Pul-i Khumri, where Shahzad maintained his rear 
base. The detainees were held in the residential quarters attached to the Pul-i 
Khumri Textile Mill. On or around May 8, the detainees were removed from 
the facility. When relatives inquired as to their whereabouts, they were 
ordered by the authorities to leave the area. However, a staff member of the 
facility informed them that the men had been loaded onto a single truck during 
the evening. The truck was reportedly escorted by a Taliban Toyota pickup. 
The prisoners were later found dead at Hazara Mazari, a journey of 
approximately one-and-a-half hours from the detention facility. On the basis 

65 These Ismailis, followers of the Agha Khan, are even further outside the pale of orthodox Islam than 
the Imami Shi'a, according to Hanafi fiqh. They lived just north of the Salang pass, around Doshi, and 
they had formed a regime militia under Najibullah to protect that segment of the Salang highway. They 
were led by the wealthy Sayyid Nadir of Kayyan. In January 1992 Sayyid Nadir joined with Dostum 
as one of the constituents of Junbish. When the Taliban reached his area, Sayyid Nadir fled with his 
family. Email communication with Rubin. 


of the evidence described below, it appears that the men were shot the night 
that they were taken from the facility. 

(c) "On or around May 18, shepherds from the Robatak pass area reported 
the presence of bodies to the provincial authorities in Samangan. The mayor 
of Samangan detailed a party of ten workmen, with an escort of Taliban 
troops, to locate and bury the bodies at the Hazara Mazari site. It was apparent 
from the appearance of the bodies that the detainees had been brought to the 
execution site with their hands bound behind their backs, and tied together by 
their forearms in groups of three, according to a worker who assisted in the 
burials. Twenty-eight of the victims were found lying where they were shot, 
face down on the ground. The execution party had made no attempt to remove 
or cover the bodies. The body of another detainee, identified as Sahib Dad, 
was found tied to a tree, his arms and legs each tied separately with a length of 
rope in such a way that his captors would have been able to manipulate them 
while he was immobilized. 66 The workmen buried the twenty-nine bodies at 
the Hazara Mazari site. The burial was perfunctory. The bodies were covered 
with at most thirty centimeters of earth, inadequate to protect them from wild 
animals. The worker who assisted in the burials described what he saw: 

The bodies were lying on the ground face down. All of their hands 
were bound behind their backs. . . . The bullet wounds could not be 
made out on the backs but there was blood on the ground beneath the 
chests. I saw the bodies about four days after they had been killed. 
Their backs had not been blown up but the blood had obviously poured 
out of the chests and I understood that they had been killed by firing 
into the back because there was no visible wound on any other part of 
the bodies and they were lying in pools of blood that had poured out of 
their chests. They were tied together in groups of three using their 
turbans and scarves which had been wound together to make ropes. 
They were tied together one to the other, using their own turbans. . . . 
To tell you the truth we were so terrified and upset that we barely 
dared look at the ground. You could hardly stand there. 

(d) "Soon after the workmen returned, word reached Naikpai that some of 
its people were among the dead. A group of residents went to inspect the 
gravesites, where they found shallow graves and recognized bits of clothing 
belonging to their missing relatives. They also found two more bodies at a 
short distance from the others; the two men had been shot and their bodies 
were left where they fell. 

(e) "The Robatak area remained under Taliban control. Local human 
rights researchers visited the site at Hazara Mazari in November 2000 and 
photographed the remains that were visible from the surface. 67 

66 According to Rubin, this is a common form of torture in rural Afghanistan. Rubin was a witness the 
day after Hajji Shamali Khan Karokhel used it on a prisoner he interrogated in Ghaziabad State Farm, 
Nangarhar, in January 1994. Email communication from Rubin, July 2004. 

67 The photographs are available in the Human Rights Watch report, Massacres of Hazaras in 
Afghanistan . 

page 258 

(f) "As general commander of the Khinjan front in Baghlan province 
during the first half of 2000, Mullah Shahzad had authority over the detention 
facilities in Khinjan and Pul-i Khumri, where the Robatak prisoners were held, 
and was in command of the troops stationed in the area. The Taliban Chief 
Military Commander for the Northern Zone (Fifth Corps, based in Mazar-i 
Sharif), Mullah Abdul Razak Nawfiz, was the immediate superior officer of 
Mullah Shahzad, and was responsible for directing his operations and briefing 
him on Taliban strategy and policy. He was also the official who would have 
had primary responsibility for investigating crimes by the commander and 
preventing further abuses." 68 

H. The Yakaolang Massacre of January 2001 69 

9.52 Yakaolang district continued to be contested after its occupation by the 
Taliban in September 1998. Khalili's Hizb-i Wahdat faction and Harakat-i Islami 
briefly retook joint control of Yakaolang at the end of 1998 and Bamiyan district in 
April 1999. However, they lost both districts in May of that year, after heavy fighting 
in Bamiyan. On December 28, 2000, Hizb-i Wahdat and Harakat-i Islami forces 
again occupied Yakaolang. 

9.53 On January 7, 2001, Taliban forces began advancing on Yakaolang from 
Bamiyan in a bid to recapture the district. At that time, Mullah Shahzada was 
commander of the Taliban strike force, responsible for all Taliban troops operating in 
Yakaolang between January 6 and January 1 1 . His troops were based close to his 
command center. After capturing Yakaolang, he based them in the district hospital, 
the old district administration building, the UNOCHA office and the girls' school, all 
of which were within 250 meters of the command center in the Irfani Library. The 
close proximity of the temporary bases, the coordinated fashion in which the Taliban 
launched search operations, and the fact that search parties brought their detainees 
back to the center before shooting them, all indicate that the roundup of civilians was 
a coordinated exercise, controlled by the operational command.™ After some fighting, 
during which the Taliban brought in reinforcements, the Taliban proceeded to Nayak, 
the district center, without further resistance, reaching it on the morning of January 8. 
A witness described the Taliban advance in the Human Rights Watch report: 

"On the evening of the January 7, a friend told me that a helicopter had been 
heard flying into Feroz Bahar. Initially people thought that it was supplying 
the United Front troops, but it turned out that it had been flying in Taliban 
troops. That night there were sounds of heavy fighting. In the morning again, 
we heard intense firing, and there was clearly a battle going on in Nayak. 
Later that morning Nayak fell and the fighting was over. . . . From 2:00 p.m. 
on January 8 we watched United Front troops [The term used in those days 
was jabha mutahid . United Front, the formal name of the coalition commonly 

68 Human Rights Watch, Massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan . 

69 Unless otherwise noted, this account is taken from Human Rights Watch, Massacres of Hazaras in 
Afghanistan , and Michael Semple, "A Detailed Account of the Summary Execution of Civilians and 
Combatants Hors de Combat, Yakaolang, 7 th to 22 nd January 2001," unpublished paper (Islamabad: 
Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan, February 2001). 

70 Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 


known as the Northern Alliance] retreating, walking past us and with their 
mounted column, heading west towards lower Yakaolang. There were so 
many of them that it took the rest of the day for them to pass us — they were 
trooping past us until late evening. They were heading for Deh Surkh and 

9.54 Upon reaching the district center, the Taliban organized eleven search parties. 
They were each allocated a sector of central Yakaolang and moved from house to 
house within their respective sectors, rounding up male occupants. The search party 
allocated to Dar-i Ali commandeered twelve horses and so was able to travel 
extensively through the valley, only part of which is accessible by road. 

9.55 A witness who was detained by the Taliban stated that he went to a friend's 
house for safety but was told that the Taliban were searching the area. After leaving 
his friend's house, the witness encountered a group of Taliban troops who ordered 
him to join a crowd of men who were being herded toward a local aid agency. The 
witness saw three bodies lying in front of the aid agency. The Taliban soldiers said 
that they were men who had tried to run away. The witness described what happened 
next in the Human Rights Watch report: 

"A group of about one hundred men was gathered at the [aid] center. After 
some time the Taliban ordered us to move, and we were herded down towards 
Nayak [the district center]. At first the pace was slow, but after some time we 
were met by a group of mounted Taliban and the soldiers started to whip the 
detainees and ordered us to move more quickly. When we got to Nayak, 
another group of Taliban was waiting there at the entrance to the bazaar, 
armed with sticks. They beat us and told the Taliban in charge of the group to 
'take them to the Mullah.'" 

9.56 According to other witnesses, the detainees were herded to the office of a 
relief agency located in Nayak, where most were later executed. 

9.57 On at least two occasions, the Taliban allegedly killed delegations of Hazara 
elders who had attempted to intercede with them. On January 9, elders of Kata Khana 
gathered to meet with the Taliban. The Taliban arrested the entire group and killed 
everyone except two neighborhood leaders. In another case, the elders of Bed 
Mushkin village met with the Taliban to discuss security for the area. All were killed 
except one. 

9.58 The main execution site in Yakaolang appears to have been outside the Oxfam 
office in Nayak. The Taliban reportedly had rounded up some fifty men from their 
homes in Darra Ali between 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. on January 8, and then screened the 
men in their operational headquarters at the OXFAM compound before taking them 
the short distance to the execution site. The Taliban then allegedly executed the men 
by firing squad at Qala Mohammad Hassan Khan around 5 P.M. on the same day. 
Eyewitness testimony includes men who were arrested in Darra Ali but spared at the 
screening stage. This operation was supervised by the Taliban operational 
command. 71 

Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 

page 260 

9.59 The Taliban arrested eleven men from near Mindayak village on January 8 and 
executed them the same day by firing squad at Qala Hasan Khan at 8:30 A.M.. One 
Mindayak man (who the source of the information) survived the firing squad. The 
Taliban killed twenty-two men from Kata Khana by the same firing squad. The 
Taliban had arrested the men inside the communal prayer hall of Kata Khana, where 
they had taken refuge the previous day, and held them prisoner overnight. One Kata 
Khana man survived the firing squad. This operation was supervised by the Taliban 
operational command. The actual firing squad consisted of about eight men. 72 

9.60 The Taliban also summarily executed about ten members of a group of elders 
who were trying to surrender to the new authorities. The elders were arrested as they 
left the home of a local influential person, Arbab Ahmad. The Taliban first screened 
them, sparing some, and then executed the rest by firing squad behind the OXFAM 
compound at 1 1 A.M. the same day. Witnesses noted that the Taliban foreign militia, 
both non-Pashtun Pakistanis and Arabs, participated in the screening. A second 
contingent of Bedmushkin elders who came to central Nayak to surrender was also 
executed at the same place at 1 1:30 A.M. on January 8. 73 

9.61 Witnesses also reported seeing piles of bodies in four other locations in and 
around Nayak: outside the district hospital, in the ravine behind the mosque in the old 
bazaar area, outside the prayer hall of Mindayak village, and at Qala Arbab Hasan. 
Of these, the largest pile of bodies was at Qala Arbab Hasan. Other killings were 
reported in neighborhoods in areas surrounding the district center, including outside 
the leprosy and tuberculosis clinics. A human rights investigator who visited 
Yakaolang district four weeks after the incident inspected one of the mass graves at 
Bed Mushkin village, in which twenty-six bodies had been found. One of the bodies 
was that of a seventeen-year-old boy, Mir Ali, much of whose skin had been removed 
either prior to or after his death. In a separate case, seven men were shot dead at the 
Zarin crossroad near the leprosy clinic in Yakaolang. 74 

9.62 Eyewitnesses reported that Sayyid Sarwar and Sayyid Talib, two staff 
members of the Center for Cooperation on Afghanistan (CCA, a local aid agency), 
were among the civilians rounded up in Dar-i Ali and executed outside the relief 
agency office. Other staff members of relief agencies were identified among those 
killed. These included a driver named Daud who was working for an international 
humanitarian agency; a man named Qasim who worked as an assistant in the leprosy 
clinic; and Sayyid Ibrahim and a man named Tahsili, both of whom worked in the 
district hospital and were staff members of a local assistance organization. Witnesses 
reported seeing a Land Cruiser and a Russian-made jeep in the possession of the 
Taliban, both of which belonged to the Yakaolang offices of humanitarian aid 
organizations. Several staff members of another local leprosy clinic were also 
identified among those executed: Sayyid Yakut, a gardener from the village of Kata 
Khana, near the center of Yakaolang district; a man named Taqi, a carpenter, from 
Akhundan village; Gul Agha, son of Mahmud, of Sarasiab village; and Sayyid Mahdi, 

Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 
Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 
Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 


son of Burki, a watchman, also from Sarasiab. One of the center's leprosy patients, 
Sayyid Amir of Panj-o-Ak village, was also executed. 75 

9.63 Taliban forces were able to remain in Yakaolang for only two weeks before 
being driven out of the district again on January 23. While retreating north through 
the Dar-i Shikari valley on or about January 20, a convoy of Taliban forces 
encountered a group of Hazara herders at Tala Burfak. Apparently frustrated that 
their path was blocked by the Hazaras' herds, some of the Taliban fired gunshots at 
the group, killing three of them on the spot. 76 

9.64 According to the report of the Special Rapporteur, at least one United Nations 
employee, a driver named Daud who worked for the FAO, was unaccounted for and 
had not been seen since January 7. 77 According to a former UN staff member who 
worked in the region, Daud was shot by the Taliban. 

9.65 According to the report of the Special Rapporteur, eyewitnesses stated that 
both parties to the conflict violated the neutrality of medical facilities in the district. 78 
Witnesses reported that Mu'allim Aziz, a Harakat commander, personally entered the 
Yakaolang hospital on the day the resistance took the town and shot dead a young 
Talib who had been airlifted into Yakaolang half an hour before the other Taliban 
retreated. 79 

I. The Burning of Yakaolang and 
Summary Executions of Civilians, June 2001 

9.66 Between February and September 2001, fighting continued in Bamyan 
province between the Taliban forces and the two Shi'a parties allied with the United 
Front that had bases in the area, Hizb-i Wahdat (Khalili faction) and Harakat-i Island. 
The conflict involved three major assaults by the Taliban and a series of 
counterattacks and raids mounted by the opposition forces. During the major 
offensives, the Taliban were able to bring to bear overwhelming force, and on all 
three occasions the United Front forces retreated, abandoning territory and population 
centers that they had been occupying. According to human rights reports, almost all 
abuses occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Taliban offensives, when the 
Taliban targeted civilian inhabitants of areas that they had recaptured from the 
opposition. The United Front forces adopted a military strategy that rendered the 
civilian population vulnerable, in that they occupied population centers without 
having the means to defend them. For their part, the Taliban incorporated abuses 
against the civilian population as a core part of their strategy. 80 

75 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

76 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

77 E/CN.4/2001/43 para. 44. 

78 E/CN.4/2001/43 para. 44. 

79 Email communication with Semple, August 2004. The incident is also described in Human Rights 
Watch, Massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan . 

80 Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 

page 262 

9.67 After the Taliban abandoned Yakaolang on January 23, 2001, Wahdat and 
Harakat, assisted by some Junbish units, advanced further into Bamyan District. On 
or around February 12, they attacked the Taliban, forcing them to retreat outside 
Bamyan city. The United Front forces briefly occupied Bamyan but withdrew within 
a few days when the Taliban sent in reinforcements. Then, in May 2001, the Taliban 
launched a new offensive. The precipitating factor was probably the arrival of the 
first supply flight from Iran for the United Front into the Iranian-built Shibartu 
military airfield. 81 Barely five days after the first supply flight, the Taliban attacked 
out of Bamyan and were able to capture in quick succession Shahidan, Shibartu, and 
central Yakaolang. They immediately proceeded as far as Yakaolang second district, 
Daga. 82 The United Front abandoned all positions in Bamiyan district. By late May, 
when the Taliban were mobilizing for a major offensive against northeastern 
Afghanistan, the United Front advanced close to Nayak. The Taliban commander 
Jihadyar, fearing that he would be surrounded, ordered his troops to withdraw from 
Yakaolang. 83 

9.68 From this point on, the Taliban strategy on combating the United Front 
shifted, and collective punishment of the local population became a key part of that 
strategy. 84 The first response was a punitive bombing raid on the district center of 
Yakaolang. In this raid the Taliban air force was able to hit the district hospital and 
the OXFAM office, both located in the center. Then the Taliban rapidly mobilized a 
large strike force, consisting of both Afghan Taliban and foreign militants, both 
Pakistani and Arab, to attack Yakaolang. According to UN staff working in the area, 
senior United Front commanders knew of the mission in advance and warned the UN 
that it would involve further abuses against the civilian population. 85 

9.69 Mullah Dadaullah, a senior Taliban commander, was assigned command of a 
strike force that set off from Bamyan on June 8 and advanced to central Yakaolang. 
There the Taliban established their headquarters in Nayak. On June 10 the Taliban 
forces burned down the old bazaar of Yakaolang. According to human rights reports, 
Dadaullah then carried out what the Taliban's official news agency termed a 
"mopping up operation"; over a two-day period, his troops allegedly burned over four 
thousand houses, shops, and public buildings in central and eastern Yakaolang, 
including a medical clinic, twelve mosques and prayer halls, and the main madrasa . or 
Islamic seminary, which was Shi'a and therefore considered heretical. Over the next 
two weeks, troops under Dadaullah reportedly moved through the district, burning 
villages and summarily executing civilians. 86 Some civilians were killed while trying 
to escape, and a number of detainees were held for a period of forced labor. 87 

Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 
Yakaolang II, like Behsud II, is a district that borders Yakaolang. 
Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 
Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 
Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 
Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 
Semple, "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses." 


J. The Burning of Shamali, Summary Executions, 
and Other Abuses Against Civilians 

9.70 The devastation wrought by the Taliban in Shamali is probably the most 
extreme example of the Taliban's strategy of collective punishment. Beginning on 
July 27, 1999, the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies undertook a series of offensives 
across the Shamali plains north of Kabul that, according to the UN Special 
Rapporteur, included arbitrary killings, the forced displacement of women, the 
burning of homes, and the destruction of other property and agricultural assets, 
including fruit trees and vineyards, one of the mainstays of the local economy. 88 Two 
specific instances of killings of groups of men were reported, one of which involved 
groups of twelve, nine, and thirteen being killed and the other groups of twenty-three 
and fifteen. These took place in the Bagram area and involved male civilians. 89 
Fighting again broke out in the Shamali plains on July 1, 2000. 

9.71 According to the Special Rapporteur, there were reports of repeated aerial 
bombardment by the Taliban forces, including bombardment of civilians in the 
Shamali plains. 90 The Shamali offensive resulted in massive displacement of the 
civilian population, in particular women and children. According to the report by the 
Special Rapporteur, estimates of the number of displaced civilians ranged from 
100,000 to 150,000 (United Front leaders claimed as many as 250,000); the bulk of 
these people sought refuge in the Panjshir valley. A substantial number (over fifty 
thousand) were reportedly moved by the Taliban forces to Jalalabad and Kabul. 
According to a Taliban spokesman, Mullah Amir Khan Mutaqqi, some eighteen 
hundred families were transported to Jalalabad (Sar Shahi camp). Sar Shahi had been 
set up in January 1994 on the road east of Jalalabad to hold IDPs fleeing the fighting 
in Kabul. A similar number were brought to Kabul. "Widespread first-hand reports 
indicated that there were house and crop burnings, forced deportations, family 
separations, the separation and deportation of women, and arbitrary killing in southern 
Shamali. House burnings were reportedly worst in Istalif, Farza, Kalakan and 
Guldara with lesser levels in Qarabagh and parts of Bagram district." 91 

72 A large number of internally displaced persons took refuge in the compound 
of the former Soviet embassy in Kabul, where they suffered a lack of basic sanitary 
facilities and water. The Special Rapporteur reported that access to the internally 
displaced persons was controlled by the Taliban, and women were not permitted to 
leave the area without a written medical note to seek health care. 92 

9.73 UNHCR officials in Pakistan recorded an increase in new arrivals in 
September 2000-January 2001 . A significant number of these arrivals were from 
northern Afghanistan. According to the Special Rapporteur, "The Government of 

88 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/2000/33) para. 39-40. 

89 E/CN.4/2000/33 para. 40. 

90 A/54/422 (1999) para. 31. 

91 E/CN.4/2000/33 para. 40. 

92 E/CN.4/2001/43 para. 32. 

page 264 

Pakistan banned the entry of new refugees from Afghanistan on 9 November 2000, 
citing 'security and economic considerations.'" 93 

9.74 According to UN reports, Pakistani officials initially asserted that they could 
not cope with the additional influx of Afghan refugees in the absence of international 
support. They also expressed concern that United Front supporters tasked with 
carrying out acts of sabotage might infiltrate Pakistan in the refugee influx. Pakistani 
border guards continued to allow entry to Afghans who could produce identification 
documents establishing prior refugee status in Pakistan, as well as to Afghans without 
such papers if they had a note from the Taliban authorities attesting to their status as 
prior refugees, traders, or NGO or government workers. Persons fleeing from the 
northern areas in the face of Taliban military operations, who were among the most 
vulnerable, were not in these categories. According to a UN official, "Many of those 
seeking to cross into Pakistan, some of whom were stranded in the Samar Khel camp 
at Jalalabad, had been affected by the conflict in the north, and . . . members of the 
Ismaili (Shi'a minority) were reportedly buying their exit from Afghanistan to 
destinations in Pakistan." 94 

9.75 The armed conflict in Yakaolang in 2001 and the abuses committed in the 
district by the Taliban resulted in massive internal displacement. Humanitarian aid 
workers estimate that thousands of persons from Yakaolang took refuge in Panjao and 
Lai districts, the Tarpuch sub-district of Balkhab district, the Kashan valley in 
Kohistanat district, and Dar-i Chasht in Lower Yakaolang district. 95 Further east, 
increased displacement occurred across the Qoqcha River as conflict spread within 
Khwajaghar (Takhar), emptying the district. Many of those internally displaced 
persons and the host population subsequently moved within Dashti-i-Qala and into 
Khwaja Bahauddin districts. With few public buildings, the districts of Khawja 
Bahauddin and Dashti-i-Qala quickly became saturated, and large numbers of 
internally displaced persons consequently remained under soft shelter outside. 96 
According to a report of January 31, 2001, by the Office of the United Nations 
Coordinator for Afghanistan, over 110 displaced persons in camps in Herat died due 
to extreme cold on the night of January 29-30. 97 

Attacks on International Humanitarian Workers 

9.76 In August 1998, following the US bombing of training camps near the 
Pakistan border, gunmen in Kabul opened fire on a UN vehicle, killing one staff 
member and injuring another. The UN repeatedly pressed the Taliban authorities to 
bring those responsible for the crime to justice. Two suspects, both from the Pakistani 
organization Sipah-i Sahaba, were arrested, but they were never brought to trial. 

9.77 In July 1999, an ICRC international team was detained and beaten by Taliban 
forces at Hajigak Pass. 98 In 2000, seven deminers working for a UN-funded 
rehabilitation program were ambushed, killed, and burned in Badghis province; one of 

93 E/CN.4/2001/43, para. 36. 

94 E/CN.4/2001/43, para 36. 

95 Human Rights Watch, Massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan . 

96 E/CN.4/2001/43 para 21. 

97 E/CN.4/2001/43 para. 24.. 


the deminers was reportedly still alive at the time he was burned." The Taliban were 
believed to be responsible. 100 

Individual Summary Executions 

9.78 In addition to mass executions and reprisal killings, reports indicate that the 
Taliban summarily executed persons because of their political affiliations or because 
they were suspected of supporting forces opposed to the Taliban. Examples of some 
of these summary executions documented by human rights groups are included below. 
These were separate from executions carried out after sentencing by an Islamic court. 
The Taliban targeted certain groups — homosexuals or persons accused of being 
homosexuals, and persons accused of adultery among them — for execution. The 
forms of execution in these cases were particularly brutal (stoning to death or crushing 
under a wall) and constituted cruel and inhumane forms of punishment. Some 
instances of these are described separately below. 

9.79 Early on September 27, 1996, as Taliban forces took control of Kabul, a 
number of Taliban troops entered the UNSMA compound and abducted former 
president Najibullah and his brother. According to UN and human rights reports, as 
well as press accounts, both men were severely beaten, tortured and executed, their 
mutilated bodies left hanging in public. 

9.80 Amnesty International compiled a partial list of such killings in a 1999 report. 
The killings below are all of former military personnel and intellectuals who were 
members of Da Sulh Ghorzan, a party founded by former Defense Minister 
Shahnawaz Tanai, and reflected a purge that Mullah Umar ordered of Khalqis at that 
time. The list included: 

(a) Pohandoy [associate professor] Muhammad Nazir Habibi and 
Pohanmal [assistant professor] Mohammad Hashim Basharyar, both 
Nangarhar university teachers. Pohandoy Habibi was a Pashtun from 
Qarabagh in Shamali plain, Kabul province; Pohanmal Basharyar was a 
Pashtun from Wardak province. They were both reportedly arrested in 
Nangarhar by the intelligence services and city security of the province on 
July 13, 1998. They were reportedly forced into a car as they were waiting for 
a vehicle to take them to the offices of the UN in Jalalabad. Basharyar's body 
was found on July 18 on the outskirts of Jalalabad and Habibi' s body on July 
19 near Torkham. 

(b) Dagarwal (Colonel) Agha Mohammad, about forty-five years old, with 
a paralyzed leg; a Pashtun from Ghazni province; member of Da Sulh Ghorzan 
(Peace Movement Party). In February 1998, a number of Taliban officials 
reportedly came to his house and took him away. About a month later, his 
body was found hanging from a tree in Muqur (Ghazni province). 

Email communication from Semple, August 2004. 

US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices 2000 (Washington, D.C.: 2001). 
' Email communication with former UN staff member. 

page 266 

(c) Shir Muhammad, a Khalqi Pashtun from Qandahar; teacher and 
influential tribal leader; member of Da Sulh Ghorzan (Peace Movement 
Party). He was reportedly killed in March-April 1998, possibly while in 
Taliban custody. Prior to his killing, he had met some twenty-five local 
leaders in Panjwai near Qandahar. His body was later found in Dand, near 

(d) General Sulhmal, Pashtun, from Helmand, a former army general in 
active service until 1996 in Kabul who remained in his post as the deputy 
defense minister after the arrival of the Taliban until May 1998. He was a 
member of Da Sulh Ghorzan. Taliban guards came to his house in Musa Qala 
(Helmand province) in May 1998 in a red Toyota pickup and took him away, 
but he never returned. The family was granted an audience with Mullah 
Umar, who reportedly told them that perhaps he was arrested because he was a 
"communist." About twenty days later, Sulhmal 's body was found in the 
fields in Arghandab area near Qandahar. Taliban officials handed over the 
body to the family. 

(e) Abdul Ghani, a Baluch from Qandahar; worked with the UN in 
Afghanistan; member of Da Sulh Ghorzan. He was killed in Qandahar city in 
early November 1998 in a car accident that his colleagues believed was an 

(f) Ghadim Shah, a Pashtun from Paktia, former secretary of the PDPA 
committee. Prior to his arrest, he had reportedly taken an active role in 
support of peace negotiations in Afghanistan. He was reportedly arrested in 
late 1998 at his house in Microraion 3. His body was found in Kotal Tira area 
between Logar and Gardez. 

(g) Mohammad Khan Tudai, a Pashtun from Paktia province, staff 
member of Afghan Ariana Airlines, worked with the former Babrak Karmal 
government, and had joined Da Sulh Ghorzan in 1998. He was reportedly 
arrested by Taliban officials from his house in Kabul in 1998, and his body 
found some days later. 

9.81 The Taliban were also reportedly responsible for the assassinations of some 
Afghans in Pakistan, including former deputy speaker of the Wolesi Jirga Abdul Ahad 
Karzai, father of current Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Abdul Ahad Karzai was 
shot in Quetta on July 14, 1999. Two bystanders were also killed. 101 

Indiscriminate Use of Force, Deliberate Destruction of Means of Livelihood 

9.82 From about 1999, the Taliban increasingly adopted a policy of collective 
punishment and mass eviction in areas populated by non-Pashtuns whom they 
suspected of supporting opposition forces. The mass burning of villages, orchards 
and fields in Shamali in 1999-2000 and the burning of Yakaolang and surrounding 
villages in Bamiyan in 2001 (discussed above) represent some of the extreme 

101 Cooperation Centre for Afghanistan, Human Rights Department, Newsletter . Vol. VI, No. 4, August 
1999: 1. 


examples of this strategy. The destruction forced massive displacements, with 
internally displaced populations fleeing to already overcrowded areas. 

9.83 In an earlier example, following a retreat from areas north of Kabul in October 
1996, the Taliban bombed a village to the north of Kabul and burned almost all the 
houses in Sar Chishma village north of the city, which was populated mainly by 
persons of Tajik ethnic origin. 102 

9.84 In July- August, 1999, Taliban forces bombed the town of Dara-i Suf with 
incendiary cluster munitions. Ground demolition forces burned down the entire 
central market and destroyed wells and homes. 103 This occurred at the same time as 
the massacres in Sar-i Pul mentioned above. 

9.85 On March 28, 1999, in reaction to an uprising by the local populationJTaliban 
forces led by Mullah Abdul Wahid Ghorbandi reportedly destroyed and burned 
houses in the villages located on the road between Shibar and Bamyan city, including 
Shashpul and Ahangiran. The road was the only one between north and south 
Afghanistan before the completion of the Salang Highway. Ghorband stands between 
Hazarajat and Parwan, so it has considerable strategic value. The Taliban also burned 
houses in Surkh Qui and other villages located in the Kalu valley. People living in 
those villages were forcibly evacuated. Two takyakhanas (Shi'a mosques) in Sarasiab 
and Gurvana villages were also reportedly burned. 104 There was a steady exodus of 
the civilian population from Bamyan from February to mid- April 1999; the civilian 
population was almost totally displaced from the area by the end of the conflict there 
in mid-May. 

9.86 In addition, during most of the period 1996 to 2001, the Taliban were involved 
in the systematic use of economic blockades of primarily civilian areas as part of their 
strategy to overcome resistance. According to humanitarian staff who worked in the 
area, these blockades significantly exacerbated humanitarian suffering in areas whose 
main trade routes were affected. The first and most widely publicized Taliban 
blockade was that of Hazarajat, during 1996-1998. The Taliban prevented 
commercial deliveries of food staples, fuel, and medicine along the main trade routes 
to Hazarajat from the south and east. This contributed to food shortages in the area, 
prompting the UN to launch emergency relief operations (although these in turn were 
disrupted by difficulties of access). During their campaign against residual resistance 
in northern Afghanistan from 1999 to 2001, the Taliban imposed a similar blockade 
on the resistance-controlled territory in the northeast (Takhar, Baghlan, and 
Badakhshan) and the northwest (parts of Samangan, Sar-i Pul, and Bamyan). Again, 
during the northern blockades, they banned the movement of food staples, vegetable 
oil, fuel, lubricants, vehicle parts, and medicines into resistance-controlled territory. 
The internal blockade was approved at a senior level within the Taliban and was 
imposed in a coordinated fashion by Taliban front-line military units. These units 
both searched traffic openly moving across the front lines (movement of passengers 

102 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/1 997/59) para. 15. 

103 Human Rights Watch, Crisis of Impunity . 

104 A/54/422 (1999) para 10. 

page 268 

and non-banned items was allowed) and conducted ambushes against people 
suspected of breaking the ban. 105 

9.87 The northern blockade coincided with a collapse in local food production 
because of the prolonged drought, so the local population was forced to rely on 
smuggling wheat and rice across the front line, usually in donkey caravans. 
According to reports by UN staff, Taliban enforcing the blockade imposed harsh 
punishments on people accused of breaching it, including confiscation of foodstuffs, 
imprisonment and beating, forced labor, and, sometimes, killing of both the smugglers 
and the pack animals. The large number of people involved in the smuggling 
operations meant that the Taliban sometimes made mass arrests of donkey drivers. 
For example, the arrests of 120 and 200 people were reported in two separate 
incidents in Takhar in 1999-2000. Numerous assessments conducted during the UN- 
led humanitarian operations during this period indicated that the population in the 
blockaded areas was already highly vulnerable, and the imposition of an economic 
blockade at such a time could — and did — exacerbate the suffering of the civilian 
population. 106 

Arbitrary Detention and Hostage-taking 

9.88 According to human rights researchers, the Taliban systematically used the 
arbitrary detention of civilians as a form of collective punishment or deterrence in 
dealing with areas where the Taliban had encountered some military resistance. 
Human rights reports indicate that the detentions policy was sanctioned at a senior 
level within the Taliban administration, as evidenced by the coordinated involvement 
of military and civilians units in conducting arrests and the prolonged incarceration 
that many of the detainees faced in government jails. In addition to the apparent 
official motivation of collective punishment, it seems that some of the officials 
involved also benefited from substantial bribes or ransoms for the release of 
detainees. 107 

9.89 According to human rights reports cited below, Taliban commanders detained 
persons, often on the basis of ethnicity, as had been the case when rival factions had 
fought for control of Kabul. In some cases the detentions were part of the Taliban's 
overall strategy for social control; persons belonging to ethnic groups who had 
resisted the Taliban lived in fear of arrest, torture, and execution. In other cases, 
persons were detained for the purpose of extortion. The Afghanistan Justice Project 
has documented cases of Hazara merchants who sons were arrested and held until the 
family paid a stated price. 

9.90 According to Human Rights Watch, when the Taliban took control of Mazar-i 
Sharif in August 1998, they arrested thousands of men, primarily on the basis of their 

105 Semple "The Experience of Civilians in Conflict 1999"; Semple, "Vulnerability and Humanitarian 
Implications of UN Security Council Sanctions in Afghanistan." 

1(,6 Semple, ""Vulnerability and Humanitarian Implications of UN Security Council Sanctions in 

107 Afghanistan Justice Project, "Taliban system of arrests and disappearances," unpublished document, 
a compilation of testimony from North Eastern Afghanistan,. 


ethnicity. Many were executed, and some were transported to Qandahar and 
elsewhere. 108 

9.91 There is sufficient documentation of mass arbitrary arrests in the central, 
northwestern, and northeastern regions during the period from 1998 to 2001 to 
indicate a pattern of abuse. For example, in October 1999 three hundred detainees 
from Bamyan were still held in Pul-i Charkhi prison, Kabul. 109 The largest source of 
these Bamyan detainees had been a public meeting that the Taliban authorities called 
in Madrasa Shinya, supposedly to be addressed by the governor. Taliban troops 
rounded up men who had arrived to attend the meeting and transported them to Kabul. 
The Taliban also arrested many members of the Security Liaison Commission in 
Bamyan, a body that they had themselves established to liaise with community 
leaders. In August 2001, a neutral negotiator who was given access to Taliban prisons 
in several provinces identified 201 Shi'a detainees, the vast majority of whom were 
arbitrarily detained civilians. 110 

9.92 The Afghanistan Justice Project has documented mass arrests of civilians in 
Kunduz and Takhar during the Taliban military campaign in those provinces during 
1999-2001 In 1999, Taliban under Mullah Abdul Razzaq Nafis arrested 520 
civilians from Bangi and Siyab, Takhar province, and jailed them in Kunduz central 
prison. The mass detentions were associated with other collective punishment 
measures in response to a localized uprising against the Taliban. Similarly, in 2000, 
Taliban arrested some six hundred civilians from Farkhar and Kalafkan in Takhar 
province and transferred them to Kunduz. Accounts of other Taliban military 
operations indicate that mass arbitrary detentions of civilians, followed by indefinite, 
protracted periods of detention in official prisons and complex processes of individual 
or collective negotiations for release, became a standard aspect of Taliban operating 
procedures. The pattern of arrests also indicate that these were not individual 
punishments for alleged wrongdoing, but that the Taliban held whole populations, in 
particular community elders, collectively responsible for any opposition activity in 
areas where they faced resistance. 112 

9.93 An additional aspect of the mass detentions was the alleged use of detainees 
for forced labor, including hazardous activities. Testimony from detainees who were 
arrested in Bamyan in 1999 indicates that Taliban forces commanded by Abdul 
Wahid held them in Siahgird, in the Ghorband Valley. The Taliban used their 
detainees for forced labor in private construction and road-building. In addition, 
during the 1999 Shamali offensive, the Taliban compelled some of these detainees to 
participate in the destruction of agricultural infrastructure there and used others in 
mine-clearing in the lower Ghorband Valley. Similarly, the Afghanistan Justice 

108 Human Rights Watch, Massacre in Mazar-i Sharif . 

109 Semple, "The Experience of Civilians in Conflict 1999." 

110 Original document provided by the prisoner negotiators, made available by Michael Semple. 

111 Afghanistan Justice Project, "Taliban system of arrests and disappearances." 

112 Afghanistan Justice Project, "Taliban system of arrests and disappearances." 

page 270 

Project has documented the use of two hundred detainees in Takhar, captured as part 
of Taliban efforts to enforce their food blockade, who were used for forced labor. 113 

9.94 In early 1999, after Hizb-i Wahdat forces captured Yakaolang in Bamyan 
province, the Taliban reportedly detained 550 people from Bamiyan as hostages and 
transferred them to different prisons in Parwan, Kabul city, and Qandahar. Among 
the arrested people were members of a council that had been formed by the Taliban 
themselves, namely Sayyid Adil Kazimi Paykar from Fatmasti, Natiqi from Kushak, 
Shaikh Imami from Surmara, and Shaikh Zaki from Kalu. After the Taliban retook 
Bamyan on May 9, 1999, they detained a group of 150 people, including women and 
children, from Berson village and transferred them to Parwan province. 114 

Cruel and Inhumane Forms of Punishment 

9.95 Taliban judges imposed huddud punishments according to their interpretation 
of Islamic law. Accused adulterers were sentenced to death by stoning. One case of 
such a stoning reportedly took place in Qandahar in July 1996. 115 Persons accused of 
theft were punished by having a hand, or in some cases a foot, amputated. The 
severity of the crime determined the kind of amputation. According to a report by 
Amnesty International, Taliban officials stated that a minor theft might result in the 
amputation of a finger; a repeat offense of a serious nature might result in both a hand 
and foot being amputated. 116 Persons accused of homosexual acts were punished by 
having a wall toppled over on them. The US State Department reported one incident 
of such a punishment in 1998; the accused man survived. 117 According to a 1998 
Amnesty International report, at least five men convicted of sodomy had been 
similarly punished in that year. In one case in Qandahar in February 1998, the men 
were placed beside a stone wall which was then knocked over by a tank. The men 
were buried under the rubble and left for half an hour with the understanding that if 
they survived they would be pardoned. All three were still alive after half an hour, 
but two died in the hospital later that day. It is not known whether the third 
survived. 118 

9.96 The Taliban also forced detainees to perform life-threatening tasks, including 
removing land mines and digging trenches in mined areas. Some examples of these 
were discussed in connection with the destruction in Shamali and other northern areas. 
According to Amnesty International, several people detained in Qandahar in early 
1995 were reportedly brought to the front line southwest of Kabul in September 1995 
and made to dig trenches in an area that was mined. An unknown number of the 
prisoners reportedly died. 119 

113 Afghanistan Justice Project, "Taliban system of arrests and disappearances." 

114 A/54/422 (1999). 

115 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices 1996 . 

116 Amnesty International, Afghanistan: Grave Abuses in the Name of Religion . ASA 1 1/12/96 
(London: 1996). 

117 US Department of State, "Afghanistan," Human Rights Practices 1998 (Washington, D.C.: 1999). 

118 Amnesty International, Flagrant Abuse of the Right to Life and Dignity . ASA 1 1/03/98 (London: 
1998) 1. 

119 Amnesty International, Flagrant Abuse of the Right to Life and Dignity 21. 


Discriminatory Treatment of and Violence against Women 

9.97 The Taliban imposed harsh restrictions aimed at controlling the civilian 
population, particularly in urban areas with ethnically mixed populations. Many of 
these restrictions targeted women. Taliban decrees prohibited women from working 
outside the home (except in limited circumstances) and girls from attending school (at 
least above the primary level). They imposed restrictions on movement that required 
women to be accompanied by a close male relative. The Taliban also prohibited 
women from appearing in public without their bodies and faces completely covered 
by a burqa. The institution responsible for enforcing these decrees was the Ministry 
for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice ( al-Amr bi al-Ma ' ruf wa al- 
Nahi 'an al-Munkir ). which "ruthlessly enforced Taliban restrictions against women 
through arbitrary and humiliating public beatings and the threat of public beatings. 
These religious police not only beat women publicly for, among other things, wearing 
socks that are not opaque enough; showing their wrists, hands, or ankles; and not 
being accompanied by a close male relative; but also for educating girls in home- 
based schools, working, and begging." 120 

9.98 Taliban forces also abducted women or used threats of violence to coerce 
families into giving their daughters to Taliban soldiers in forced "marriages." In one 
case documented by the Afghanistan Justice Project, one woman had been forced to 
accompany a Taliban commander after he threatened her family. He had told the 
family that he wanted her to be his wife. The commander took her out of Kabul to a 
house where several other women were detained. All of the women were forced to 
perform sexual acts with the commander and other commanders he brought there. 
After several months the woman managed to escape. 121 

9.99 Afghan women were allowed to work in the medical sector as doctors and 
nurses. A restricted number of Afghan women were allowed to be employed in 
agencies headed by women until July 2000, when the Taliban issued a decree of law 
banning Afghan women from working in aid agencies, except in the health sector. 122 

Child Soldiers: Recruitment Patterns and Numbers 

9. 100 The recruitment of children for military purposes constitutes a crime against 
humanity under international law. In Afghanistan, children reportedly have been 
recruited since 1979. (See previous chapters for information on child soldiers during 
the period of 1979-1992.) A UN study reported that in Afghanistan — as in many 
other countries — children have been forced to commit atrocities against their own 
families or communities. 123 

120 Human Rights Watch, Humanity Denied . Human Rights Watch Publications (October 2001) Vol. 
13, No. 5 (C). 

121 Afghanistan Justice Project, unpublished document. 
122 E/CN.4/2001/43/Add.l. 

123 United Nations General Assembly, "Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children: Impact of 
Armed Conflict on Children" (A/51/306, 1996). 

page 272 

9.101 It is difficult to obtain accurate estimates of child soldiers recruited under 
various regimes. Research conducted in 1995 on the situation in Afghanistan for the 
UN Study on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (the "Machel Study") found 
that the youngest child soldier was thirteen years old (though the report did not 
mention for whom he was fighting). The recruitment continued during the 1990s 
under the ISA/Northern Alliance and Taliban regimes. 

9.102 In June 2001, the Global Movement for Children- Afghanistan Working Group 
published a report on children in Afghanistan (1990-2000). 124 It indicated that in the 
1990s there had been several large-scale recruitment initiatives of boys by the 
Taliban, bringing thousands of students, both Pakistani and Afghan, from madrasas in 
Pakistan to the front lines. It noted: 

"This occurred in 1997 and 1998 in response to significant defeats with large 
numbers of causalities amongst their existing troops, or in preparation for 
major offensives. Some of the boys, aged mainly between 14 and 18 years but 
occasionally younger, were reportedly forced to go to the front lines by their 
religious teacher." 125 

9.103 In 1998, after international condemnation, the Taliban leader Mullah Omar 
announced a ban on involving boys "young enough not to have a beard" in combat. 
Despite the ban, Taliban commanders reportedly continued compulsory recruitment in 
Afghanistan and Pakistan. The 2000 Child Soldier Coalition Report noted that NGOs 
and other governments have continued to report compulsory recruitment by Taliban 
within Afghanistan. It said: 

"An Afghan aid worker based in Pakistan stated that each land-owning family 
was required to provide one young man and 2.4 million afghanis (about USD 
500) in expenses. Each draftee can expect to spend two months fighting every 
6 to 12 months. 126 

9. 104 Taliban recruitment was often cyclical, with large-scale recruitment drives 
associated with significant defeats or major offensives. Pakistani madrasas allegedly 
provided the Taliban with thousands of new Afghan and Pakistani recruits after the 
final capture of Mazar-i Sharif in August. 127 According to other reports, Pakistan 
facilitated this recruitment drive by closing madrasas and arranging transportation for 
the students. 128 

9. 105 In 2000, a report prepared for UNICEF stated that it was not known whether 
there were any specific rules governing minimum age of recruitment in the Northern 
Alliance, and there had not been reports of widespread recruitment of minors, but that 
numbers reportedly increased in 2000 in comparison with previous years. 129 

124 Global Movement for Children, Lost Chances: The Changing Situation of Children in Afghanistan 
1990-2000 (Islamabad. June 2001). 

125 Global Movement for Children, Lost Chances . 

126 Human Rights Watch, Crisis of Impunity . 

127 Barnett R. Rubin, "Afghanistan under the Taliban," Current History 98 (February 1999): 79-91. 

128 Human Rights Watch, Crisis of Impunity. 

page 273 


10.1 The last four months of 2001 saw a new phase in the Afghan conflict. 
Following the attacks on the US by al-Qaida on September 1 1, the US led a coalition 
in an offensive against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The coalition 
included forces of the Islamic United Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (Northern 
Alliance) that the US supplied with arms, money, and logistical support. On October 
7, the US began bombing Taliban positions in the north. On November 10, the 
Taliban abandoned Mazar-i Sharif. On November 13, they abandoned Kabul, and on 
December 7, the Taliban leadership fled Qandahar. In November, the UN brought 
together leaders from several Afghan groups to negotiate an agreement on an interim 
government and the reestablishment of permanent government institutions. That 
agreement, known as the Bonn Agreement (for the city in which the negotiations were 
held), was signed on December 5 and entered into force on December 22, 2001. 
Since then, US forces have continued to engage Taliban and al-Qaida forces in 
southern and eastern Afghanistan and pursue senior Taliban and al-Qaida leaders. 
The mandate for this report covers only the period up to the entry into force of the 
Bonn Agreement; abuses that occurred after December 22, 2001, are not covered in 
this report. 

10.2 The violations of the laws of war and other abuses that took place during this 
period include summary executions of noncombatants by the Taliban; summary 
execution of captured Taliban and foreign combatants by Northern Alliance forces; 
reprisal attacks on civilians by Northern Alliance forces; torture and mistreatment of 
Taliban detainees by Northern Alliance forces; the use of indiscriminate weapons by 
US forces; and prolonged detention of civilians, Taliban, and suspected al-Qaida 
members by US forces without appropriate legal safeguards. 

A. Violations by the Taliban and al-Qaida 

10.3 This phase of the war could actually be said to begin on September 9, when 
Ahmad Shah Massoud was assassinated at his headquarters in northeastern 
Afghanistan. Two Moroccan men, apparently al-Qaida operatives posing as 
journalists, detonated an explosive device hidden in a camera while interviewing 
Massoud. One of the assassins died in the explosion along with Massoud and Azim 
Suhail, an aide. The other assassin was wounded in the explosion and then shot by 
Massoud's forces, apparently while trying to escape. 

10.4 In the post-September 1 1 period, the Taliban were on the defensive. Thus, 
while some of the abuses described in the previous chapter continued, the Taliban 
soon lost their position of strength on the battlefield. Within two weeks after the 
beginning of the US bombing campaign, Taliban fighters began deserting their 
positions in the north and west. 1 Nevertheless, the Taliban did violate international 
humanitarian law. One of the most blatant examples of this was the execution on 
October 27 of a prominent opposition commander, Abdul Haq, together with a 
relative named Hamid, whom the Taliban had captured in October in Logar province. 

129 Campbell, Lost Chances 70. 

1 Patricia Gossman, "Tapping Afghanistan's Peacemakers," Washington Post . September 27, 2001. 

page 274 

According to press reports, the execution had been ordered by the Taliban leader, 
Mullah Umar. 2 Abdul Haq, who had opposed the US bombing campaign, had entered 
Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan to organize Pashtun resistance to the Taliban. 

B. Violations by Northern Alliance Forces 
Summary Executions of Detainees 

10.5 In mid-November, Northern Alliance forces surrounded the last Taliban 
stronghold in Kunduz. When the Taliban forces and the Pakistani and Arab fighters 
with them surrendered, thousands were taken into custody and transported to prison 
facilities at Shibirghan and Qala-i Jangi, near Mazar-i Sharif. At least two hundred 
detainees (and possibly many more) reportedly died en route in the overcrowded 
container trucks used to transport them and were buried in mass graves in the desert 
area of Dasht-i Laili near Shibirghan. 

10.6 On two occasions, forensic investigators from Physicians for Human Rights 
visited a site that appeared to be the disposal ground of some of the Taliban fighters 
who surrendered to the United Front in November and December of 2001 . According 
to international organizations, Afghan officials, community members, and journalists, 
there continues to be no reliable accounting for a number of the prisoners taken into 
custody at that time. At the site the investigators found disassociated skeletal 
elements strewn on the surface. Some bones were missing flesh, bleached, and 
lacking residual soft tissue. Others were less weathered and retained odor and 
vestigial soft tissue. Three pelvic elements were observed; all were males. Ages 
ranged from late teens to middle age. The majority of bones had been scavenged. 
Shoes, prayer caps, prayer beads, and other apparel were found. All clothing was in 
relatively good condition, exhibiting minimal weathering or fading. 3 

10.7 One witness interviewed by PHR drove by the site early in the morning and 
observed six container trucks backed into the site with their back doors open and cabs 
facing the paved road. Another witness saw three trucks in a T-formation. Both 
witnesses observed men covering their faces as if avoiding bad odors, and armed 
guards prompted the witnesses to take a different path to the main road. According to 
another witness, bodies of soldiers who died in container transports were taken to an 
area near the perimeter of the grave site. Another witness reported that on about 
January 5, 2002, he drove by the site and observed and photographed two mounds that 
allegedly contained the bodies of Taliban soldiers. These mounds had been 
"flattened" out by the time he drove by there a second time with the PHR team on 
January 20, 2002. 4 

10.8 Local witnesses told PHR that shortly after the end of Ramadan (from the end 
of November to the beginning of December 2001) bulldozers were seen at work in the 
area, which was closely guarded by soldiers. One witness stated that he believed the 

2 BBC World South Asia . "Key Taliban opponent executed," October 27, 2001. 

3 Physicians for Human Rights . Preliminary Assessment of Alleged Mass Gravesites in the Area of 
Mazar-i-Sharif. Afghanistan: January 16-21 and February 7-14 (Boston and Washington. D.C.: May 

4 Physicians for Human Rights . Preliminary Assessment of Alleged Mass Gravesites . 

page 275 

bulldozers were there because dead bodies had been brought there during the night, 
when villagers were not allowed out. Soldiers guarding the area did not allow locals 
to observe what was going on. The second witness stated to PHR that he believed the 
dead were brought there on one day. He said that he remembered seeing one 
container truck and two bulldozers. He believes that this happened toward the end of 
Ramadan in 2001. 5 

10.9 When AJP visited the site in February, heavy vehicle tracks were visible, 
criss-crossing the site. Witnesses stated that during one night after the end of 
Ramadan, earth-moving vehicles came to the area, and there was a smell of decay. 6 
The witnesses were afraid to speak about the incident. 

10.10 Gen. Dostum later acknowledged that some two hundred Taliban prisoners 
had suffocated in container trucks due to inadvertent overcrowding. 7 A full 
investigation of the incident has never taken place. 

The Revolt at Qala-i Jangi 

10. 1 1 . Following the surrender of several thousand Taliban and foreign fighters at 
Kunduz in November, some five hundred detainees — most of whom were reportedly 
non- Afghans, including Pakistanis, Arabs, Uzbeks (from Uzbekistan), and Chechens 
— were held at Gen. Dostum's Qala-i Jangi fort, near Mazar-i Sharif. On November 
24, one detainee allegedly detonated a hidden grenade while being interrogated by a 
CIA officer, killing both men. A full-scale revolt then broke out, with United Front 
forces battling a number of the of detainees, who had concealed weapons in their 
clothing and had managed to obtain other weapons, including rocket-propelled 
grenade launchers and machine guns. By the next day, US and British forces joined 
the fight, and US forces bombed areas of the fort controlled by the prisoners. After 
alliance forces flooded the basement, the last fighters surrendered, six days after the 
battle began. Dozens of United Front forces and at least four hundred of the detainees 
were reportedly killed in the fighting and bombing. United Front and US forces were 
killed when a mistargeted US bomb struck them. While the majority of those killed 
were combatants who died in the course of the battle, journalists reported that a 
number of the bodies of detainees were found with their hands tied behind their 
backs. 8 On December 21, 2001, the Special Rapporteur, referring to expressions of 
concern by human rights groups, urged that inquiries on the reported incidents should 
be held by the concerned authorities and corrective action taken. 9 The incident was 
never fully investigated, however. 

5 Physicians for Human Rights . Preliminary Assessment of Alleged Mass Gravesites . 

6 Afghanistan Justice Project unpublished report based on interviews with witnesses, February 2002. 

7 BBC World South Asia . "Fresh bloodshed at Mazar Fort," November 29, 2001 ; BBC News . "UK 
rules out prison revolt inquiry," November 29, 2001 ; BBC News . "Fort revolt: What really happened?" 
December 1, 2001. 

8 BBC World South Asia . "UK rules out prison revolt inquiry." 

9 United Nations Economic and Social Council, Commission on Human Rights, "Report on the 
Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan" (E/CN.4/2002/43) para 8. 

page 276 

Reprisal Killings 

10.12 As Northern Alliance forces recaptured territory in the north, they reportedly 
carried out abuses against Pashtun communities who they believed had benefited from 
or collaborated with Taliban rule at the expense of other ethnic communities. In some 
cases the abuses were carried out in reprisal against specific Pashtuns for similar 
abuses committed three years earlier, when the Taliban came to power in the area; in 
other cases, whole Pashtun communities were targeted simply because of their ethnic 
identity, and in many cases the motive behind the abuses appeared to be as much 
extortion and looting as revenge. Whole communities evacuated the area as a result 
of the abuses. 

10.13 According to human rights reports cited below, various armed factions carried 
out killings, robberies and other abuses against local Pashtuns as territories changed 
hands in the north. In some cases those responsible were local residents whose land 
had been taken from them when the Taliban controlled the area, and who were 
seeking restitution or revenge. In some cases commanders with the three major 
United Front factions controlling the north — Junbish, Wahdat, and Jamiat — were 
allegedly directly involved in attacks, had armed the local villagers, or did nothing to 
stop or prevent the abuses. 

10.14 Human Rights Watch documented a number of reprisal killings of Pashtuns in 
Balkh, Baghlan, Faryab, and Samangan provinces. In one incident that took place in 
the first week of December, a group of about three hundred armed Hazaras attacked 
the remote Pashtun village of Bargah-i Afghani, located in the Chimtal district of 
Balkh province. Just two days prior to the arrival of the Hazara fighters, the villagers 
of Bargah-i Afghani had handed over their firearms to Manzullah Khan, an Uzbek 
commander of Junbish, and in return had received a written confirmation from him 
that they had been disarmed. Manzullah Khan had also placed twelve of his soldiers 
in the village after its population was disarmed, but the soldiers ran away when the 
Hazara fighters attacked the village. The Hazara fighters reportedly killed thirty- 
seven men who stayed behind, the largest documented killing of civilians since the 
fall of the Taliban. Of the thirty-seven killed, seventeen were local villagers, and the 
remaining twenty were ethnic Pashtuns who had resettled in the village. 

10.15 A.S., a thirty-six-year-old farmer from Bargah-i Afghani who was beaten by 
the gunmen during the attack, told Human Rights Watch that his attackers accused 
him of being Taliban and al-Qaida: _!!They told me that I had come from Pakistan and 
should give them money. I gave them 30 lakhs [af 3 million, about US $42]. They 
threw the money away, saying it was not enough. They looted everything." _A.S. 
witnessed the summary executions of three Pashtun men from the village and later 
recovered the body of a fourth executed villager. 

10.16 Los Angeles Times reporter Geoffrey Mohan interviewed a Wahdat 
commander named Rajab about the attack. Rajab, who is believed to control a 
significant area of Chimtal district, admitted that killings took place in Bargah-i 
Afghani and claimed that the attack was in retaliation for earlier incidents of attacks 
against Hazara villagers by Pashtuns: 

"Yes, that's right, something happened [in Bargah-i Afghani]. . . . But when 
the Taliban first came, there were about 2,000 Hazara families in Chimtal 

page 277 

[district]. These Pashtun people killed about 300 Hazara people and put 500 
in jail. They looted the Hazara people's houses. They looted my house and 
knocked down the walls. . . . They killed about 300 people, and we killed 
maybe 10. We took cattle from dead people, but it was cattle they had taken 
from us. . . . No one knows who did this, but these people who are living in 
Bargah now, they oppressed people, they looted houses, they raped people." 10 

10. 17 Other killings took place in Yengi Qala, in Chimtal district. A group of 
Pashtun families who had resettled in Yengi Qala abused the non-Pashtun population 
during the Taliban period, according to a village elder interviewed by Human Rights 
Watch, but the majority of Pashtun villagers did not. When the area changed hands, 
armed Hazara men allegedly killed at least four Pashtun men and looted houses. 
According to Human Rights Watch, villagers blamed two additional killings on 
Hazara fighters belonging to Hizb-i Wahdat. In one incident, witnesses identified 
Hizb-i Wahdat commander Abdullah Chatagh as present when his troops looted 
Pashtun homes. Another commander, Zafi, assembled eight Tajik men, lined them 
up, and then fired over their heads. The men ran away as the soldiers were preparing 
to shoot again — it is unclear from the testimony whether the commander intended to 
kill the men or terrorize them. The Tajik men sought protection from Jamiat forces in 
the area. 11 

10.18 One of the village elders from Haji Mullah Hashim, seventy-five-year-old Lala 
Jan, disappeared from the village around November 20, 2001, after he was unable to 
pay two thousand lakhs [about US $2,800] demanded from him by Uzbek gunmen. 
The men beat him severely and then took him away. The villagers believe that Lala 
Jan died from the beating and that the gunmen disposed of his body. 12 


10.19 There were also numerous reports of rape of women in the north by different 
armed forces, but few documented cases, given the social stigma attached to rape 
victims. Human Rights Watch received second-hand reports that women and girls 
had been raped and kidnapped in Chimtal district but was able to confirm only one 
case of rape in the district. A Pashtun school administrator in Mazar-i Sharif told 
Human Rights Watch that three Hazara soldiers raped a sixteen-year-old female 
relative of hers in Chimtal town on January 16, 2002. A group of four soldiers 
allegedly came to the home while the girl was bathing. The men tied up her father in 
the front room, and three of the soldiers raped his daughter in front of him and looted 
the home. The girl has been forced to leave her village "because everyone heard 
about [the rape] and it was shameful for the family." The school administrator 
stressed that there were other cases of rape, but that in most cases the families affected 
tried to keep the information private. 13 

10 Geoffrey Mohan, "Vengeance is Taking its Toll in Wake of Taliban," Los Angeles Times . March 2, 
2002; cited in Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes: Abuses against Ethnic Pashtuns 
in Northern Afghanistan . Human Rights Watch Publications (April 2002) Vol. 14, No. 2 (C). 

11 Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

12 Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

13 Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

page 278 

Assaults for Extortion and Looting 

10.20 Armed Tajiks also reportedly carried out abuses against Pashtun civilians. 
Around December 10, 2001, three armed Tajiks took forty-two-year-old A.M., a 
Pashtun, from his home and held a gun to his head, demanding money. They let him 
go after he paid them. 

10.21 Around November 15, 2001, a group of about thirty to forty armed Uzbek men 
entered the Pashtun village of Nawarid Janghura. They beat local residents and looted 
property. Witnesses testified that the armed men were Junbish fighters belonging to a 
nearby military base. Around the same day, Junbish fighters looted property while 
ostensibly looking for weapons in other villages near their base, including Khanabad, 
Kakrak, and other villages. In some cases they beat local Pashtuns in order to extort 
money. 14 

10.22 One witness identified the troops as being under the command of Commander 
Lai and Commander Qara. When one villager complained to a Jamiat administrator 
about the incident, he was told nothing could be done, because the responsible 
soldiers belonged to another militia. 15 

10.23 Similar incidents took place in other parts of the north. Witnesses described 
attacks by Wahdat forces on Pashtuns in the Turwai Kai settlement on the outskirts of 
Balkh city and in Aghab-i Gudam settlement, during which the gunmen beat men, 
took money, and looted other property, including livestock. In one village, the 
Wahdat forces held the men of the village hostage for several days until other forces 
intervened. Following attacks on Tajik villagers, Jamiat forces provided guns to the 

10.24 In Pai-i Mashhad Afghani, a Pashtun village in Dawlatabad district of Faryab, 
two Hazara commanders named Anwar and Musa reportedly came to the village and 
collected about twenty AK-47 assault rifles from the villagers. Then, around 
November 28, a group of about sixty Hazara soldiers commanded by Commander 
Basiri of Hizb-i Wahdat attacked the village, beating men and looting property. 16 

10.25 On December 7, the Pashtun village of Koter Ma was looted by a group of 
armed Uzbek men belonging to Junbish. Following the attack, most of the Pashtun 
families fled to Pashtun areas of southern or eastern Afghanistan or to Pakistan. 17 

10.26 One witness described how Junbish, Hizb-i Wahdat, and Jamiat troops had all 
raided the village of Bagh-i Zakhira on different days, in some cases beating local 
villagers, and always stealing any property they could. 18 

10.27 A witness in Nagara Khan stated that groups of ethnic Uzbek Junbish soldiers 
repeatedly came to the village over a five-day period immediately after the fall of the 

Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 
Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 
Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 
Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 
Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

page 279 

Taliban and looted the village. When the villagers turned over only eight guns, the 
Junbish soldiers took a group of about twenty-five young men from the village into 
the mosque, accused them of being Taliban, and threatened to kill them. When 
village elders approached Commander Majid Rawzi, he rebuffed them, saying "you 
did the same thing to us before, now we will do the same to you." All families of the 
village then abandoned their homes after losing most of their possessions to the 
looters. 19 

10.28 Qona Qala, Lakan Khel, Jadran, and Baraki are Pashtun villages in Nahrin 
district, Baghlan province, which had a population of some 1200 Pashtun families 
before the fall of the Taliban. Many fled after the Taliban retreated. Jamiat forces 
attacked the remaining Pashtuns in early December, beating them and demanding 
money. One villager who remained in Lakan Khel when the Taliban regime collapsed 
reported that Jamiat soldiers looted the village: 

(a) "At first, when they started to beat me, they beat me with the front and 
back sides of their AK-47 assault rifles. They beat me for ten minutes. They 
jabbed me in the back with their AK-47 assault rifles. 

(b) "They asked me for money — 50 or 100 lakhs — and to turn in my 
weapons. They were threatening me, that they would kill me if I didn't pay. I 
didn't have money, so they took my two cows. . . . They also beat my thirty- 
year-old son and my next son, who is twenty-six-years old. They verbally 
abused the women of my family." 20 

10.29 Another villager from Jadran interviewed by Human Rights Watch identified 
two Jamiat commanders who oversaw the looting: 

"My last harvest was all looted at the time of the change of government 
[collapse of the Taliban] by Commander Khurshid and his men and by 
Commander Gul Rahman. They took 200 sers [1,400 kilograms] of wheat 
from me. They came with their vehicles and loaded it up. It happened on the 
first night [following the Taliban collapse]. Between fifty and fifty-five men 
came to the village." 21 

10.30 Pashtun villagers from Shurkul in Hazrat-i Sultan district in Samangan 
province described beatings and looting by Junbish soldiers in November 2001 . Two 
commanders, Commander Azim and Commander Najmuddin, were identified in a 
number of incidents. "When they came, they collected all of the men and put them in 
a room, like they were jailed. . . . They beat my husband so badly that they fractured 
his skull and [injured] his shoulder." Soldiers returned in December, taking money 
and beating the villagers with heavy cables and guns. Three of them were beaten so 
badly that they could not walk. In two Pashtun villages located near Aibak, villagers 
described looting in November and December by Commander Ahmad Khan and other 
Junbish commanders. Villagers from Ghazi Mullah Qurban stated that at least three 

Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 
Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 
Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

page 280 

cars had been stolen from the village by a Junbish commander and were being used by 
Junbish commanders. 22 

10.3 1 Villagers in the Shur Darya river valley near Dawlatabad and Faizabad in 
Faryab province described looting and beating by Junbish forces. One man described 
what happened in his village: 

"Just after the fall of Mazar-i Sharif [on November 9, 2001] they came to 
disarm us, but not the other [non-Pashtun] villages. We are the weakest 
village here, we've been completely robbed. They took the bread from our 
plates, from the mouths of our children. I was beaten three times. They just 
said 'You are Pashtun.' They did not even say, 'You are Taliban.' When they 
came [immediately after the fall of Mazar] they beat me with rifle butts. They 
took me to jail because I would not pay them. They beat me again there. 
They twisted my testicles, until the left one is completely gone." 23 

10.32 According to reports, some of the looting appeared to be in retaliation for 
looting carried out by Pashtun villagers when the Taliban came to power, which was 
also in response to previous acts of theft by Uzbek forces before the Taliban. But in 
some villages, the Pashtun communities affected had not benefited from Taliban rule. 

10.33 In Haji Mullah Hashim, Junbish forces also beat villagers: 

(a) "It was 9 A.M. when I returned [to the village]. Three vehicles 
stopped by my house, and about fifty soldiers got off and moved to the 
mosque. They called all of the villagers to come to the mosque. When all of 
the villagers went there, they locked us inside the mosque. 

(b) "Then, the soldiers were calling us out, one or two at a time. They 
asked us to find them weapons. I told them we do not have weapons, I even 
swore to God. Then they told me that if I don't have weapons, I should give 
them money. I explained that I didn't have anything, because I had been 

(c) "They ordered me to lie down. I put my turban in my mouth because 
of the soil, and to prevent myself from screaming. Then one of them sat on 
my legs, and the other on my head. Two were standing by my sides. They 
had their whips and started beating me. It lasted for about thirty minutes, until 
I lost consciousness. I was in a very bad state." 24 

10.34 A thirty-five-year-old Pashtun farmer from Islam Qala fled the village after he 
was abused and threatened by Uzbek soldiers: 

(a) "[In late December 2001], at 5 P.M., three armed people came to my 
house. . . . They were Uzbeks, under the command of Commander Hashim of 
Junbish. They entered my house and asked for 100 lakhs [about US $140]. I 
explained I didn't have this. Since I didn't have the money, they beat me. 

22 Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

23 Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

24 Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

page 281 

(b) "They tied my feet together. One stood on my neck and the others 
were using wooden sticks to beat me. I couldn't count the number of hits, but 
I guess it must have been over one hundred. Then, I lost consciousness. . . . 
When I woke up, the soldiers were gone." 25 

Abuse of Prisoners 

10.35 Human rights investigators from Physicians for Human Rights studied 
conditions at Shibirghan prison, a large facility that held thousands of Afghan Taliban 
and some foreign prisoners after the defeat of the Taliban in northern Afghanistan in 
November 2001 . The prisoners were captured by Northern Alliance forces fighting as 
allies of the US-led coalition against the Taliban. Thus, responsibility for protecting 
the security and well-being of the prisoners rested with both the US and the Northern 
Alliance forces — in this case, principally Junbish, which administered Shibirghan 
prison. The investigators found that, contrary to international law, 26 the detainees 
were held in severely overcrowded conditions. The food available to inmates was 
inadequate, and 80 to 110 men were held in cells built to hold ten to fifteen men. The 
PHR investigators found many men suffering from gastrointestinal illnesses, and the 
men complained about inadequate blankets and medical care. According to PHR, 
General Jarobak, the director of the prison, stated that "many, many, many prisoners" 
had died, mainly from dysentery, some from pneumonia. 27 

Denial of Access to and Obstruction of Humanitarian Assistance 

10.36 As part of the reprisals against Pashtuns in the north of Afghanistan following 
the defeat of the Taliban, Pashtuns faced discrimination when trying to obtain 
humanitarian assistance. As one example, the villagers of Bagh-i Zakhira told Human 
Rights Watch that they were unable to obtain ration cards for the distribution of 
World Food Programme-sponsored humanitarian aid and were told that there were no 
cards for Pashtuns. Women could obtain cards if they wore burqas to hide their 
identity. 28 

10.37 Pakistan blocked entry for refugees fleeing the fighting, leaving thousands 
stranded without food or shelter in a no-man's-land near the border crossing point of 
Chaman. The Uzbek government also refused to reopen the Friendship Bridge across 
the Amu Darya, leaving aid agencies to use much longer routes through Turkmenistan 
and Pakistan to reach displaced populations in the north who were in need and living 
in freezing conditions. 29 

25 Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

26 This would include, at the very least, Common Article 3 to the Geneva Conventions, which requires 
that detainees be treated humanely. Access to the prisoners and their disposition was controlled during 
this period by the US. Having transferred full custody to an allied partner, the US was still required to 
ensure that the detainees were treated humanely, even if the forces having physical custody of the 
prisoners have no capacity to provide the material supports essential to meet the standards of the 
Convention. See Physicians for Human Rights, A Report on Conditions at Shebarghan Prison. 
Northern Afghanistan (Boston and Washington, D.C.: January 28, 2002). 

27 Physicians for Human Rights, A Report on Conditions at Shebarghan Prison . 

28 Human Rights Watch, Paying for the Taliban's Crimes . 

BBC World South Asia . "Refugees trapped in no man's land," December 4, 2001 . 

page 282 

C. Violations by US Forces 

US Bombing of Civilians 

10.38 Although US forces for the most part hit military targets during this period, a 
number of bombs hit civilian targets either because they went astray or because of 
inadequate information that misidentified civilian targets as military ones. Although 
these do not constitute war crimes, US officials refused to provide adequate 
explanations for the incidents. Some examples of these are: 

(a) On October 22, US forces bombed the village of Chawkar-Karez in 
southern Afghanistan, reportedly killing at least twenty-five civilians. Despite 
repeated calls from Human Rights Watch for an investigation of the incident, 
the Pentagon provided no explanation for the mistake. 30 

(b) A convoy of community leaders reportedly on their way to attend the 
inauguration of the Interim Administration in Kabul on December 22 was 
struck near Gardez (Paktia Province), resulting in over sixty deaths. 31 

10.39 Doctors in Kabul hospital appealed for an end to the US bombing, saying they 
were operating on wounds in conditions "reminiscent of the 19 th century." 32 The 
bombing also led to a large-scale evacuation of urban areas, adding to internally 
displaced communities. 33 

30 Human Rights Watch, "Pentagon should explain civilian deaths in Chowkar," press release, 
November 1,2001. 

31 E/CN.4/2002/43 para. 9. 

32 BBC World South Asia . "Key Taliban opponent executed," October 27, 2001. 

33 "Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan," A/56/409/Add.l (2001), para. 10. 

page 283 

Use of Indiscriminate Weapons 

10.40 After US forces began bombing Afghanistan on October 7, cluster bombs 
were reportedly deployed within a matter of days. According to reports, B-l bombers 
dropped some fifty CBU-57 cluster bombs in five missions during the first week of 
the bombing. 34 Human rights groups have called for a moratorium on the use of 
cluster bombs because they are inherently indiscriminate weapons. They disperse 
over a wide area and have a high initial failure rate, leaving many to lie in areas used 
by civilians, where they pose the same long-term risk as antipersonnel land mines. As 
of November 8, 2001, the US reportedly had used 350 cluster bombs in Afghanistan, 
each releasing 202 bomblets for a total of 70,700 bomblets in this period alone. One 
variety of the bomblets dispersed from a container that resembled a yellow soda can, 
and human rights and assistance groups warned that they could be confused for air- 
dropped food packets. US officials vowed to change the color of the food packets, but 
the risk from unexploded cluster bomblets remained. 35 

10.41 As of November 8, the UN had confirmed one civilian death and three injuries 
from handling unexploded cluster bomblets. In one incident near Herat investigated 
by the Afghan Independent Human Rights commission, eleven people were killed, all 
of whom were reportedly civilians. Twenty people were injured. The victims 
included women and children. 36 

Prolonged Detention without Due Process 

10.42 Captured combatants and others suspected of being Taliban or al-Qaida 
members have been detained in facilities in Afghanistan. Many of these detainees 
have since been transferred to the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — a 
facility that was to hold more than seven hundred detainees from forty-four countries 
by 2004, according to Human Rights Watch. "Guantanamo was deliberately chosen 
in an attempt to put the detainees beyond the jurisdiction of the US courts." 37 US 
officials declared the prisoners to be "unlawful combatants." Under the Geneva 
Conventions captured fighters are considered prisoners of war (POWs) if they are 
members of an adversary state's armed forces or are part of an identifiable militia 
group that abides by the laws of war. Al-Qaida members, who neither wear 
identifying insignia nor abide by the laws of war, probably would not qualify. 
Taliban soldiers, as the armed forces of Afghanistan, could be entitled to POW status. 
Some of those captured may be held in error, despite not having taken up arms. If 
there is doubt about a captured fighter's status as a POW, the Geneva Conventions 
require that he be treated as such until a competent tribunal determines otherwise. 
Detainees may also challenge the factual basis of their designation as combatants. 
The first detainees did not arrive at Guantanamo until January 2002. 

34 Human Rights Watch, Cluster Bombs in Afghanistan . Human Rights Watch Backgrounder (New 
York: October 2001). 

35 Human Rights Watch, "Cluster Bomblets Litter Afghanistan," Human Rights Watch News . 
November 16, 2001. 

36 Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Herat Province , unpublished document on cases 
related to US air attack on Qala-i-Shatar. 

37 Human Rights Watch, The Road to Abu Ghraib (New York: June 2004). 

page 284 

10.43 CIA agents have reportedly conducted military and intelligence operations in 
Afghanistan since September 2001. The agency controls its own detention and 
interrogation facilities at Bagram air base and the former Ariana Hotel in Kabul. As 
the facilities are not officially acknowledged, there is no information available about 
the number of persons detained there, how long they have been detained, or the 
conditions under which they have been held. According to Human Rights Watch, 
detainees at Bagram air base have been subjected to mistreatment, and the treatment 
of detainees in late 2001 was particularly harsh. 38 

10.44 The testimony available about mistreatment comes from detainees held in 
2002, not 2001, but it indicates the kinds of abuse US forces resorted to, including 
sleep deprivation, forcing detainees to stand in positions for prolonged periods, and, 
in some cases, beatings and threats of torture. 39 


10.45 According to some reports, the US government also allegedly facilitated or 
directly transferred persons to other countries for interrogation, including countries 
where torture is a routine practice, without following extradition proceedings in 
carrying out these transfers. Reports also indicate that persons deemed to be 
particularly important, including top al-Qaida officials, have been held in undisclosed 
locations with no access to the ICRC or their families. In general, according to these 
reports, the US does not acknowledge they are in custody. 40 

38 Human Rights Watch, "Enduring Freedom": Abuses by US Forces in Afghanistan . Human Rights 
Watch Publications (March 2004) Vol. 16, No. 3(C). 

39 Human Rights Watch, "Enduring Freedom": Abuses by US Forces in Afghanistan . 

40 Human Rights Watch, The Road to Abu Ghraib. 

page 285 


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page 287 

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Afghanistan." in Revolutions and Rebellions in Afghanistan: Anthropological 
Perspectives , ed. M. Nazif Shahrani and Robert L. Canfield, Research Series, No. 
57. Berkeley: University of California Institute of International Studies, 1984: 3-56. 

Sliwinski, Marek. "The Decimation of Afghanistan." Orbis 33 (Winter 1988-89): 

Synovitz, Ron. "Uzbekistan: Little Progress Seen in Agricultural Reforms." RFE/RL 
Report (February 25, 1997). 

Umarzai, Abdul Ghani. Shabha-yi Kabul: Khatirat-i Yak Afsar-i Nizami. Jurianat-i 
Pusht-i Pardah Du Daha-yi Akhir-i Afghanistan . Asrar-i Kih Nikhostin Bar Ifsha 
Migardad [ Kabul Nights: Memories of an army officer. Behind the scene events of 
the last two decades in Afghanistan . The secrets that are revealed for the first time ]. 
Peshawar: Sabah Kitab Khana, 1995 [1374]. 

Pikov, N. I., E.G. Nikitenko, Y. L. Tegin, and Y. N._Shvedov. BoiiHa b AcbramiCTaHe 
( Voina V'Afganistanye — The War in Afghanistan ). Moscow: Voyenizdat (Military 
Publishing House), 1991. 

Yousaf, Mohammad, and Mark Adkin. Afghanistan The Bear Trap: The Defeat of a 
Superpower . Havertown: Casemate, 2001. First edition 1992. 

Press Reports 

Afghan Information Centre Monthly Bulletin : 25 (April 1983); 27 (June 1983); 35 
(February 1984); 41 (August 1984); 34 (January 1984); 49 (April 1985); 51 (June 

Afghan Realities : May 1-15, 1984; May 15-31, 1984; November 1-15, 1985;. 

Agence France-Presse : Geneva, October 9, 1982; Peshawar, April 18, 1983; Barri 
Fort, East Afghanistan, May 1, 1983; Kabul, May 9, 1983; Islamabad, April 17, 1984; 
Peshawar, June 19, 1984; Islamabad, August 22, 1985. 

Prima News (Moscow): Chemen Ashirova, "The 'Golden' Life of Turkmen 
Children," November 13, 2002. 

Associated Press : Islamabad, August 21, 1984; Sharon Herbaugh, "Civilians Tell of 
Captivity, Torture by Rebels," Kabul, June 6, 1992; "Afghan Landmines Focus of 
Conference," Kabul, July 26, 2002. 

page 294 

BAKHTAR (Afghan government news agency): Kabul, September 5, 1985. Quoted 
in Federal Broadcast Information Service 8 (September 5, 1985): C-l. 

BBC News : "Key Taliban opponent executed," October 27, 2001; "Fresh bloodshed 
at Mazar Fort," November 29, 2001; "UK rules out prison revolt inquiry," November 
29, 2001; "Fort revolt: What really happened?" December 1, 2001; "Refugees 
trapped in no man's land, December 4, 2001. 

Chicago Sun-Times : September 23, 1984. 

Chicago Tribune : July 15, 1984. 

Christian Science Monitor : Edward Girardet, "A Grim Chapter in Afghanistan War," 
February 4, 1980; October 10, 1984. 

The Independent : Robert Block, "Afghan gunmen kill British UN aid worker," 
February 3, 1993. 

Kabul Times : May 3, 1979; January 1, 1980; January 2, 1980. 
Liberation : April 19-20, 1980. 

Los Angeles Times : Geoffrey Mohan, "Vengeance is Taking its Toll in Wake of 
Taliban," March 2, 2002 

Le Monde : August 17, 1979; February 23, 1980; February 24; 1980, February 26; 
1980; February 27, 1980; February 28, 1980; February 29, 1980; March 1, 1980; June 
3-4, 1984. 

New York Times : October 20, 1983; Steven R. Weisman, "Blast in Pakistan Has 
Officials Jittery," May 16, 1985; November 1, 1985; John Burns, "Inside Jalalabad: 
A Sad Crumbling Shell," May 11, 1989; John Burns, "20 Die as Rocket Hits a Kabul 
Bazaar,", July 23, 1989; John Burns, "Don't Give Rockets to Rebels, Kabul Tells 
U.S.," November 29, 1989; John Burns, "Now They Blame America," Magazine . 
February 4, 1990; "Afghan Rebel Attack Kills 14," April 13, 1990; Kabul Rebels 
Reported to Kill 200 Soldiers," November 11, 1990; "Afghan Militia Fails to Stop 
Street Fighting by Factions," June 6, 1992; "Up to 2,000 Killed in Kabul Last Month, 
Red Cross Says," September 6, 1992; "Afghan Leader, Sworn In, Appeals for Unity," 
January 3, 1993; "Afghan Army Ousts Foes from Capital," June 27, 1994; 

Les Nouvelles d' Afghanistan : 6 (February-March, 1982); 11 (December 1982); 14 
(June-August 1983); 15 (October-November 1983); 17 (March-April 1984). 

Radio Liberty Research Bulletin : March 19, 1984. 

Reuters : London, June 12, 1984; Islamabad, April 10, 1987; Andrew Roche, "Kabul 
fighting erupts again despite ceasefire," Kabul, June 4, 1992. 

Sunday Times : Jeff B. Harmon, "Toe to Toe with Russians in Kandahar's Holy War," 
August 11, 1985. 

The Times (London), June 28, 1984. 

page 295 

U.S. News and World Report : October 15, 1984. 

Washington Post . James Rupert, "Depopulation Campaign Brutally Changes 
Villages, January 15, 1986; Mark Fineman, "Jalalabad Devastated but Quiet," May 
11, 1989; James Rupert, "Afghans Prepare for Summer Offensives," July 13, 1989; 
"Shelling in Kabul," August 8, 1989; "Guerrilla Rockets Pound Kabul," October 29, 
1989; "Guerrilla Rockets Kill 21 in Afghan Capital," August 1, 1989; "Kabul 
Rocketed for Second Day," October 30, 1989; James Rupert, "Massoud: 'Go With 
Faith in God'; Commander Shows No Joy as He Orders His Guerrillas Into Kabul," 
April 26, 1992; William Branigin, "Afghanistan's Capital Falls to Muslim Rebels; 
Rival Groups Seize Key Installations In Hurried, Tense Takeover of Kabul," April 26, 
1992; Steve Coll, "Guerrillas Battle For Kabul; Shelling, Skirmishes Mark Rival 
Groups' Struggle for Control," April 27, 1992; Steve Coll, "Civilians Bear Brunt of 
Kabul Battle; New Afghan Government's Forces Gaining Control of Capital," April 
30, 1992; "Afghan Rebels Pound Kabul, Causing Heavy Casualties; Shells, Rockets 
Devastate Central Market in Capital," August 14, 1992; Susan B. Glasser, "Rivalry 
Revived in Afghanistan: Karzai Takes On Secret Service Led by Defense Minister," 
July 24, 2002. 

Unpublished Documents 

Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Transitional Justice Section. Herat 
Zone. Kabul: 2003. 

Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Transitional Justice Section. 
"Report of Laghman Province by Transitional Justice Section, Qarghew District." 
Eastern Provinces (Kabul: 2003). 

Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Transitional Justice Section. 
Kunduz Province (Kabul: 2003). 

Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. Herat Province . Cases related to 
US air attack on Qala-i-Shatar. 

Afghanistan Justice Project. "Taliban system of arrests and disappearances: A 
compilation of testimony from North Eastern Afghanistan." Unpublished document. 

Almqvist, Borje. Letter to Amnesty International. Eskilstuna, Sweden, April 19, 

"The April Massacres of Laghman." Testimony of Jalad Khan, edited and translated 
by Abdul Karim Muheb, Peshawar University. 1985. 

Medecins sans Frontieres. "La situation dans le Hazarajat," January 20, 1982. 

Al-Qandahari, Haji Maulana Akhtar Muhammad. Sarf al-Ijtihad fi Ahkam al- Jihad 
( Summary of Jurisprudence Concerning the Provisions of Jihad ). Quetta: Court of 
Refugees and Mujahidin of Southwestern Region, 1363 [1984]. Translated and 
abridged by Mohammad Asef Ikram. International Committee of the Red Cross: 
Peshawar, 1987. 

page 296 

Schultheis, Rob, and Syeed Farhad. "Transcript of Interviews with Refugees from 
Laghman Province, Afghanistan. Munda Camp, North- West Frontier Province, 
Pakistan, 5/16/85," translation by Sher M. Etibari. 

Semple, Michael. "The Experience of Civilians in Conflict 1999." Unpublished 
paper. Islamabad: Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan, November 1999. 

Semple, Michael. "Vulnerability and Humanitarian Implications of UN Security 
Council Sanctions in Afghanistan." Unpublished paper. Islamabad: Office of the UN 
Coordinator for Afghanistan, December 2000. 

Semple, Michael. "A Detailed Account of the Summary Execution of Civilians and 
Combatants Hors de Combat, Yakaolang, 7 th to 22 nd January 2001." Unpublished 
paper. Islamabad: Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan, February 2001. 

Semple, Michael. "Compilation of Evidence on Human Rights Abuses Committed by 
the Taliban in Yakaolang and Western Bamyan, February to September 2001." 
Unpublished paper. Islamabad: Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan, 
September 2001. 

United States Department of State. "Afghans Assassinated in Pakistan." 
Peshawar/Washington, 1992.